Archive for 25th August 2009

Dear supporters

P1120894Dear Supporters,

Despite two council decisions, one public inquiry and the best efforts of several thousand local residents over two years, Tesco are opening on Mill Road tomorrow, 26th August 2009.

We expect that a judicial review of the situation will happen later – hopefully very soon – but in the meantime, a judge has decided not to stop Tesco opening for now. With that in mind, we would like to say what we think this does, and doesn’t, mean, and what we want to do next.

The fact that very few local residents seem to want them while thousands want them to stay away; that they already own 13 stores in our small city, and are already trying to open yet another, on East Road; that their delivery operations have been judged to be dangerous by all competent authorities that have looked at them (and by Tesco themselves); that they would be more expensive and offer less choice than the existing shops; that they have been refused applications for the site again and again – none of this has been enough to stop them opening.

We think that any system where this can happen is a system that is deeply flawed and needs fixing. We think that local residents should have a meaningful voice in what happens to their community, so that when a dangerous and unpopular scheme like this appears, the community can take action to stop it.

But we also think that however unhappy we may be about Tesco opening, that the community has won far more than Tesco from this fight, and we won from the moment that the first person signed the petition, or put a poster up in their window, or went to a campaign meeting.

Whatever happens in the future, Tesco will never get back the more than £4.6 million in lost turnover that we estimate the delay in opening has cost them. They will always have been humiliated at two council meetings, a public inquiry and an alcohol license hearing. The delay meant, too, that they have had to open after Mill Road became a cumulative impact zone, meaning that they did not get an alcohol license. The efforts of the local community to highlight the dangers of deliveries and the noise and nuisance of their plans also meant that they had to open a much smaller store than they wanted, and one that is more expensive to operate. All this means that the local community has managed to permanently restrict the damage that this store can do to the area.

In contrast, the community has gained more than any of us could ever have imagined when the campaign started, almost two years ago. Many of us know our neighbours better, use our local shops more, and have learned to do things that we never thought we could do. The campaign has shown that thousands of people of every political viewpoint, age, religious view, and background can put aside the things that divide them and stand up together for something that unites them.

The mural on the Mill Road bridge says “respect and diversity in our community”. We think this campaign has proved that this is exactly what the Mill Road community is like. We always knew that Mill Road was a special place; that’s why we’ve all fought so hard to protect it. The two years of that fight have shown us how right we were.

So, even if Tesco are eventually allowed to stay open on Mill Road, we think that the community is much stronger and Tesco is weaker as a result of what has happened here.

So what happens next? Well, that depends on the outcome of the legal process, but in any case there are two things we would like to ask you to do if you have supported the campaign. These reflect the two concerns that have come up again and again over the last two years – the threat to road safety and the threat to local shops.

We are asking everyone to keep an eye on Tesco’s deliveries. They are not allowed to stop lorries (their own or their suppliers’) on the street – either on Mill Road or Sedgwick Street. They have to respect the one way system. If they don’t, or if they stop on the street, let us know and let planning enforcement and the police know.


Traders of Mill Road: Support variety and choice on Mill Road

Secondly, and just as importantly, the best way that you can show your continued opposition to Tesco is to support your local independent shops. It’s likely that most of us will never want buy anything from this store, but more important than a boycott of a dull, overpriced chain store is a commitment to actively support the diverse and independent shops that Tesco threatens. Tesco will only hurt these businesses if we let it; so we’re asking all supporters to buy something from an independent business on Mill Road tomorrow. And to do the same the next day. And the day after that. Using our local shops is the way to keep them alive.

We will let you know as soon as we have any news about the legal action, but until then these are things that we can do, starting tomorrow, to help our community.

With all our best wishes and gratitude for your support,

The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign Committee

PS There will not be a protest at the opening of the store.

Legal action – money raised

Dear Supporters,

We emailed you on Saturday to ask if you could help us with the costs of legal action. Thanks to your amazing generosity, we have now raised enough money to cover these costs. The fact that the target has been reached so quickly is the clearest possible signal of how strongly we all feel about the situation and the need for legal action to resolve it.

With huge thanks,
The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign

Lorry problems already

Here is a report from a local resident which was copied to us and which refers to incidents merely hours after the opening of the store. Note in particular the driver of Tesco’s own lorries stating that the delivery arrangements were ‘ridiculous’.

Dear Mr Payne

I am writing to you to report activity which I believe to be dangerous and illegal in relation to deliveries at 163-167 Mill Road. I urge the City Council to take action against this. If you are not the person responsible for taking the action, please let me know who I should contact instead.

Between 9.00am and 9.30am this morning (Tuesday 25 August) I witnessed the following:

A lorry registration HX53GWW (the “First Lorry”) was present in the rear yard of 163-167 Mill Road, having presumably just finished a delivery.

A lorry registration AY57EFE (the “Second Lorry”) reversed from Mill Road into Sedgwick Street, contrary to the one-way restrictions, and stopped on the double yellow lines on the east side of Sedgwick Street between the entrance to the rear yard of 163-167 Mill Road and the junction with Mill Road. This lorry had clearly been stationary on Mill Road prior to reversing into Sedgwick Street. The driver of the Second Lorry got out of his vehicle and spoke to some people in the rear yard.

After several minutes, a lorry registration MX58RFO (the “Third Lorry”) drove up Sedgwick Street (in the correct direction) and stopped behind the Second Lorry. Sedgwick Street was completely blocked to vehicular traffic (including cyclists) at this point.

The driver of the Second Lorry got back into his vehicle and drove off into Mill Road. The First Lorry then reversed out of the yard into Sedgwick Street, and drove off as well. At this point the Third Lorry drove forwards into the space vacated by the Second Lorry, i.e. on the double yellow lines on the east side of Sedgwick Street between the entrance to the rear yard of 163-167 Mill Road and the junction with Mill Road.

The driver of the Third Lorry got out of his vehicle and went to speak to people in the rear yard. I heard the driver say the words: “That’s not what is says on my risk assessment” and “What do you think I’m driving, a transit van? This is a 21 ton vehicle”. He suggested that somebody from the yard might like to carry out the manoeuvre instead of him. I spoke to the driver of the Lorry and established that he had been asked to reverse into the yard, whereas his ‘risk assessment’ stated that he should drive in forwards and then turn round within the curtilage of the site. He also commented to me that he had found it very difficult to negotiate the back streets and he had passed extremely close to parked vehicles. He said it was ‘ridiculous’ to deliver to the site in this way.

Due to the parking spaces which have recently been painted on the rear yard surface, many vehicles had parked there, and it appeared to be physically impossible to make a delivery with the Third Lorry, which was significantly larger than the First Lorry already within the yard when I arrived at the site.

I had to leave at 9.30am to go to work. At this point the Third Lorry was still parked on the double yellow lines on the east side of Sedgwick Street between the entrance to the rear yard of 163-167 Mill Road and the junction with Mill Road. I witnessed one more lorry pass the site, which had to drive onto the pavement on the west side of Sedgwick Street in order to get past.

It is quite obvious to me that such arrangements are an accident waiting to happen, and that action should be taken to prevent this danger to public safety. As I mentioned at the start of my email, if you are not the person to take this action, please put me in contact with the person who can deal with the isssues.