Pakefield Tesco Campaign “Crosses The Political Boundaries”Posted: January 5, 2013
by Bob Blizzard Parliamentary Candidate for Waveney
Ex Tory Councillor, Stephen Chilvers, (Letters, December 21st) never lets facts get in the way
of his routine party political attacks. This time he tries to denigrate my involvement in the
campaign against Tesco moving into Pakefield. In fact, local people, alarmed at the impact
an unwanted an unneeded Tesco would have on our existing shops and the loss of the iconic
Tramways, asked me to chair the public meeting at the Seagull Theatre. At the end of that
meeting, everyone wanted to continue the campaign, which is why I proposed the protest
outside the WDC Planning Offices, an idea with which all agreed.
This way forward followed the research into legislation I had carried out which revealed
that, despite the council having previously told objectors that planning consent for change
of use was not required, planning permission is in fact needed to convert a hotel into a food
store, and the council does have discretion to insist on an application to turn a pub into a
food store if the building is of historical or architectural importance.
The protest outside the Planning Offices proved worthwhile, as a council officer appeared
and told us that WDC was now asking Tesco to apply for change of use.
If Mr Chilvers had joined the campaign instead of carping from the sidelines he would
have known all this. He would have also seen that the campaign is not party political. Local
people are uniting behind a deeply felt cause.
Sadly, Mr Chilvers did introduce party politics in trying to blame the last Labour government,
but again he got his facts wrong. This issue is not, as he suggests, about out of town
supermarkets. The Pakefield shops have withstood the impact of Lowestoft’s out of town
supermarkets (which, by the way, were all approved under a Conservative government). The
problem we are dealing with is Tesco wanting to plonk themselves right next to the shops
that have served us well for years. In doing so they are hoping to make use of a relaxation in
planning law that was enacted in 1995 by a Conservative government. And before someone
asks why Labour didn’t plug the loophole, it has only been in the last two years that we have
seen the surge in Tesco and other supermarkets exploiting it to take over pubs.
I hope that Mr Chilvers will now join the thousands of other people who have expressed
opposition to Tesco moving into Pakefield, regardless of their party political loyalties.