Last meal at the No Tesco squat?

Stephan rang me from the No Tesco in Stokes Croft squat.

I had just taken a picture of this Tesco bag blowing randomly on a branch in a car park in Portishead.

Stephan said tonight’s Sunday communal meal may be its last.

Last Tuesday, a repossession order was granted to Tescos plc – the ‘conscious squatters’ lost their court appeal to keep the site for the community.

I call them ‘conscious squatters’ because they look after the old Jesters comedy venue site with its bar and stage and share it consciously, hence the squat’s screening of Food Inc, last night’s Cosmic Cabaret and its regular Sunday night communal meal.

They have been occupying the premises ever since we locals heard Tesco has a planning application on the site. Even though there are 6 Tescos within a mile [see comment below] and 31 in Bristol.

I would much rather have this cosy communal space the squatters have created than another soulless supermarket.

Yet any minute now, eviction papers could be served. The squatters then have 48 hours to leave.

Here is Stephan’s Project Flowers at the squat. Note the framed flower drawings.

“Flowers represent positivity,” Stephan explains. “In a way we are all like flowers.”

He created the project so everyone could take part in it.

Food is like that – something we can all take part in.

Tonight the squat served the most amazing vegan meal for over 50 people in return for donations only.

My plate of varied inventive coleslaw (raw cabbage, slivers of kiwi, finely cut celery, herbs, seeds, and cardamon), vegan chilli stew, potato curry, beetroot and spinach leaves and a mound of brown rice. Followed by homemade fruit crumble and dairy-free custard.

The funny thing tonight turned out to be networking-central. I caught up with five different lots of friends from different parts of my life (including dance, work, family and food).

The No Tesco in Stokes Croft squat is creating community.

It is budding, at the beginning of its spring growth, fertile with plans including a food coop to make local healthy food affordable for all.

It would be no joke if the squatters in the old Jesters comedy club were evicted.

22 responses to “Last meal at the No Tesco squat?

  1. the food looks good.
    And that bag, how dare it. lol

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  2. That is one bad bag, eh?

    Those plastic supermarket things get everywhere.

    Hey, Kseverny, you have a crazy original website.

    Love. It.

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  3. How many Tescos in Stokes Croft? Someone left this useful comment on http://stokescroft.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/tesco-buy-up-lease-of-former-jesters-on-cheltenham-road-let-the-community-decide/

    “I am on 9 Stokes Croft and [after inputting postcode on Tesco’s store locator] there are already 6 Tesco stores less than a mile from our street and therefore this site and there are a stunning 18 stores in a three mile radius. No way do we need another one!!!!!

    1. BRISTOL BLENHEIM COURT EXPRESS
    0.20 miles from search
    2. BRISTOL METRO
    0.28 miles from search
    3. BRISTOL WINE STREET EXPRESS
    0.42 miles from search
    4. BRISTOL CLARE STREET EXPRESS
    0.62 miles from search
    5. COLLEGE BRISTOL EXPRESS
    0.75 miles from search
    6. BISHOPSTON EXPRESS
    0.91 miles from search
    7. CLIFTON EXPRESS
    1.29 miles from search
    8. TOTTERDOWN EXPRESS
    1.49 miles from search
    9. CLIFTON REGENT STREET EXPRESS
    1.53 miles from search
    10. BEDMINSTER EXPRESS
    1.61 miles from search
    11.BRISTOL EAST EXTRA
    1.70 miles from search
    12. BEDMINSTER EXPRESS
    1.72 miles from search
    13. LIME TREES ROAD
    1.78 miles from search
    14. HENLEAZE EXPRESS
    1.99 miles from search
    15. REDFIELD METRO
    2.05 miles from search
    16. BRISTOL BRISLINGTON
    2.78 miles from search
    17. BRISTOL HOMEPLUS
    3.02 miles from search
    18. BRISTOL FILTON EXPRESS
    3.08 miles from search

    You have 49 local stores (within 20 miles)

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  4. Richard Craven

    “I call them ‘conscious squatters’ because they look after the old Jesters comedy venue site with its bar and stage and share it consciously, hence the squat’s screening of Food Inc, last night’s Cosmic Cabaret and its regular Sunday night communal meal.”

    I call them ‘unconscious squatters’ because some of them are rather too fond of ketamine

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    • There is no way I would bestow the adjective ‘conscious’ on ketamine users! I appreciate you disagree with the squatters but my point is they are clear-thinkers.

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  5. Richard Craven

    “I would much rather have this cosy communal space the squatters have created than another soulless supermarket.”

    I don’t think that, with my lukewarm pro-Tesco views, I would fit in at all. Yet I am definitely a member of the community. Therefore it is not a cosy communal space. Instead, it is a space which welcomes only those, local or otherwise, who find themselves in agreement with its prevailing anti-capitalist squattocratic ethos. Please do not pretend otherwise.

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    • The thing is, I was a bit apprehensive as I set off for communal meal at squat, but ended up surprised to find some mates had gone too. However I agree – not everyone would have felt comfortable.

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  6. Richard Craven

    “The funny thing tonight turned out to be networking-central.”

    I hope you managed to do plenty of business!

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  7. Richard Craven

    “I am on 9 Stokes Croft and [after inputting postcode on Tesco’s store locator] there are already 6 Tesco stores less than a mile from our street and therefore this site and there are a stunning 18 stores in a three mile radius. No way do we need another one!!!!!”

    This suggests that planning permission for x should be granted only if we need x. This is not true. Planning consent generally and rightly depends on less demanding criteria, i.e. the avoidance of undue harm. Try replacing ‘x’ with ‘organic foodstore’. Personally, although I think that organics is just a rather boring lifestyle choice, I also think that organic foodstores cause very little harm, and ought by and large to be permitted, even where this requires change-of-use consents. I don’t suppose you disagree with me.

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    • “Personally, although I think that organics is just a rather boring lifestyle choice, I also think that organic foodstores cause very little harm, and ought by and large to be permitted, even where this requires change-of-use consents. I don’t suppose you disagree with me.”

      Organic food is the only food system protected by law that reduces exposure to farm chemicals and bans irradiation, GMOs and artificial flavourings. It also replenishes the soil and helps wildlife thrive, as well as having the highest animal welfare standards.

      It’s a bit more than a ‘boring lifestyle choice’ for me!

      But I get the point you are making. ie organic shops do little harm and should be allowed a succcessful planning application.

      However, I would argue – as I have several times…that a multiple retailer has negative effects on local businesses and communities.

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  8. Richard Craven

    “Yet any minute now, eviction papers could be served. The squatters then have 48 hours to leave.”

    I certainly hope so! Three cheers for the sanctity of private property! Surely, an Englishman’s home is his castle, and his shop iss his shop too, even when the shopkeepers are the pension-funds on the Tesco share-register.

    Oh, and that would be the pension funds of ordinary working people. Just so you know who you’re up against.

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    • I compare the squatters’ action to Votes for Women. There was a time when women had to behave illegally because they did not have a voice.

      Current planning laws do not allow Bristol City Council to object to Tesco’s application on the grounds that a giant supermarket ruins small communities.

      I would like to see planning laws changed to protect local shops and communities.

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  9. Nice piece Elisabeth, the flower project is an excellent way for people from all over the world to participate in a positive participative art project.

    I think I am missing Richard’s point a little though, perhaps he could clarify.

    As far as I am concerned it appears the local annoyance is based on the minimal (if not underhand) consultation process that the council are commited to undertake if a change of premise use is passed by the planning department.

    Not only are there already numerous Tesco’s in the immediate vicinity but there are a great very many corner shops, local supermarkets, farm shops, bakers etc.

    The real shame is to rip out a ready to go, furnished and equipped communal performance, cafe, bar space and replace with a replica of what exists up, down and left and right of the site already.

    In this sense, absolutely fair play to the squatters (and let’s be clear squatting is not illegal in England and infact is legally defined by English law), for taking POSITIVE ACTION in demonstraing what is possible with what already exists.

    There is a stage, a bar, a sound system, a projector, seating areas, stage lights and sound and lighting desks.

    Probably far too long to be considered fair or balanced, but it really can’t be too difficult to see that spaces with local influence add to local community, those determined and designed at national or international scale lead us away from local sustainable stability.

    The council failed to consult the community, Stokes Croft has one of the stongest community identities in Bristol. This should not be a regular occurance in 2010 beyond, let people play their part in the development of their own communities. Come on BCC – listen, then respond so that we may all hear your rationale.

    Who owns the City?

    Here’s hoping we don’t waste a perfect community resource, let’s use it! ;~)

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  10. Does Richard Craven work for Tesco? You’ve been very patient with him! Every community has the right to communicate and protest about what they want, whether you’re pro supermarket or not…

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  11. Elisabeth, if you’re moderating this page, fair enough to you for being democratic enough to post clearly opposing views to your own . However, taking a patronizing approach to local residents who were clearly very much against this complete non-issue and having their lives disrupted by these activists won’t score you brownie points in BS6, far from it.

    The Croft and other local venues clearly have a license for noise , etc, which can be revoked by the council for non-compliance. This lot didn’t, and clearly didn’t give a jot for people living near by. Green politics are still a minority issue for the vast majority of people, though their activities often attract people best described as anarchists. We’ve seen it all on the news at various times. It doesn’t warm people with a day job to the cause, does it?

    As you can see, a lot of people who actually LIVE near this site got really peed off with what was going on in the old jesters, and the ludicrous comments about ‘alternative’ use were, frankly, being laughed at. Silly leftist student nonsense. A clean new Tesco is just not an issue when there’s so many more newsworthy causes going on in the world, and frankly a lot of the anti-sentiment smelt like a form of green propaganda. Stokes Croft needs real investment, and I hope that some of the buildings nearby become successful businesses, paying taxes. I wouldn’t even mind a Starbucks here if it created footfall by people with cash in their pockets for nearby shops.

    Be honest Elisabeth, you can’t compare what was going on here with the suffragettes. It would be like you comparing yourself to Martin Luther King. It’s just Tesco, for gods sake. Let’s hope that these people weren’t shipped in from outside either, that would be just plain offensive. You should be thankful nobody fell off the roof, or passers by didn’t get injured by something like an ironing board falling on them.

    The squat/illegal occupation was, quite frankly, pathetic.

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  12. Quite true that Elisabeth is democratic, but perhaps today Elisabeth you could make an exception with the last post!
    The “Just another Tescos” comment really did get my goat. Resistance to homogeny is a broad and multi-faceted struggle, not restricted only to Stokes Croft. The battle thats been waging these last 6 or 8 weeks is greatly symbolic. Big business like Tesco are disempowering us by reducing our choice as consumers and diluting the power of community. However an individual chooses to stand up against what seem sometimes to be unbeatable forces is to be respected and appreciated. Without the lad on the tripod yesterday AND Pankhurst or Luther King where would we be now? I think this modern day struggle to protect local identity and consumer autonomy is akin to the struggles for rights for women and rights for people of colour. It’s the right to decent food after all!

    What is pathetic though Dave is people’s ignorance and apathy. “If you dont stand for something you’ll fall for anything” is a quote appropriate to far too many ‘sheeple’.

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  13. Dave and Richard – what a pair of nobs!
    I realise that’s not the most intelligent response to them, but you and others have already tried the logical, reasonable approach and its obvious that they can’t get it.
    So, ha ha dick heads! Stoopid dickheads!

    They can take comfort in the fact that their kind is winning, they can feel very comfortable in a homogenised world of chain shops and none of that horrible local culture that they feel so excluded from.

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  14. Ingrid, if you want to live in a squat infested dump then it’s your choice of course. Next time, do it far away from people who don’t share your views. In a field somewhere miles away perhaps?I know this is a forum of minority views like yours, so sorry to ruin the party. However, if your idea of a logical and reasonable approach to things is to encourage noisy gobby squatters to pitch tents on the roof of any potential business they don’t like then I think that’s a bit dictatorial of you to be honest. Take it you’re a student and don’t own a place in the area? Grow up.

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    • I regret that Ingrid Rose used bad language.

      But I am not sure if she holds minority views.

      Judging by the Daily Mail coverage of the squatters’ eviction, and the UK-wide campaigns to save the local high street, I would say many ordinary people are concerned.

      It’s probably true that only a minority would protest on a roof to protect their local high street.

      Like

  15. Pingback: No Tesco in Stokes Croft fundraising party – Chance to win a Banksy! | Real Food Lover

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