Yesterday Bristol City Council appeared to give Tesco what it wanted – planning permission for its red, white and blue shop front in OUR amazing and unique Stokes Croft.
Tesco does NOT however have permission to open a shop on Stokes Croft – see clarification below. (And my post after this)
After a rally (above), free food and music, over 200 supporters of the No Tesco in Stokes Croft trooped into the Council house.
Claire, Rachel and Sam – who have been working on this campaign for seven months and were representing over 2,000 people – got 7.5 minutes each to speak. I got 3 minutes. You need Internet Explorer to watch proceedings here.
Then we descended into two hours of planning law hell where we were actually banned from asking questions, or even pointing at a document that someone held aloft (we were only trying to be helpful as councillors did not seem to know the relevant page number).
At one point, the chair shhhhhed us, as if we were naughty children.
Not responsible citizens who care enough about our community to take a whole day out of our lives to sit in Council chambers.
Here is what struck me.
Its shameless abuse of power.
Yesterday I saw it with my own eyes.
The horrible thing is does Tesco not have to do anything, or even turn up.
The stick Tesco wields is the fear that Tesco might appeal against a planning decision, costing local taxpayers’ money.
Tesco can afford a legal appeal – peanuts to the mighty corporate that makes nearly £3.5 billion a year.
The councillors could have ignored their planning officer – as they did in North Norfolk. Tesco might not have appealed – Stokes Croft is already a Tesco PR nightmare.
But our council bowed to the bully.
Yesterday we saw the unedifying site of planning officers doing Tesco’s bidding. And councillors – despite asking all the right concerned questions – voting for it.
The other thing I saw with my very eyes was how Tesco’s underhand trick of using a third-party to apply for planning permission worked.
Let me explain.
Last September 2009 Tesco applied for the premises in Stokes Croft to be turned from a comedy club to a shop. But sneakily – using a third-party.
Thus change-of-use to a shop was granted without anyone being aware that “shop” actually meant a Tesco store.
Here is how this dreadful trick worked in Tesco’s favour:
Yesterday in Bristol City’s council house, we expressed concerns about how a Tesco would increase traffic. At least 42 deliveries a week can be expected on a street with a cycle lane. And how will a huge lorry negotiate the one-track cobblestoned Picton Lane?
However these genuine concerns for threats to life-and-limb were not considered significant. Why?
Because they were part-and-parcel of the “change-of-use to shop” decision back in September 2009.
i.e. based on the lie that the proposed Tesco store was an ordinary local shop.
Clarification: The Council granted two applications yesterday – 1) shop front and 2) illuminated signage – with conditions such as wooden lettering. So the applications must return for Council approval.
The third application re external works was postponed until a noise assessment has been done.
In other words, Tesco does NOT have planning permission to open.
I repeat: Tesco does NOT have planning permission to open.