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Stand Up For Seaton (SU4S)

Community Action for Seaton's Regeneration Area, 80% owned by Tesco - a floodplain on a World Heritage site bordered by nature reserves, tidal river, the sea and the unspoilt town. SU4S is a state of mind - no members, no structure, no politics. SU4S has objected to 2 planning applications by Tesco, including one for a massive superstore/dot com distribution centre which led to the recent closure on the site of 400 tourist beds with the loss of 150 jobs,a gym and pool - all used by locals.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Watchdog to demand an end to planning of "Tesco towns"

Sunday Times, Sunday 28 October 2008, Business Section, page 1 - extracts:

"A crackdown on "Tesco towns" is set to be unveiled this week by the Competition Commission when it releases the provisional findings of its 18 month inquiry into the UK grocery market ..." ...

"It will argue that competition could be encouraged by the introduction of a "fascia" or competition test ..." ... .

"In a detailed examination of competition in and around large stores, investigators found that just over a third of all stores have no more than two rivals within a ten minute drive. Nearly 100 big stores have no competition at all within a 10-minute drive ...".

What are Seaton's nearest superstores? Tesco Axminster - 10 minute drive, Tesco Honiton around 20 minutes, Waitrose (not one of the big 4) - 25 minutes. Any of the other "big 4" stores nearby: Sainsbury - no; Asda - no; Morrisons - no.

So, where is Liatris these days?

Answer: we don't know.

They have been advised by one side of planning to withdraw their planning application but have not done so. If they proceed they have to put in a much more detailed design and access statement (all the roads, the height of all the buildings, window and door designs, etc). No sign of that yet.

The Environment Agency have said they are happy with the treatment of water using a monsoon drain running south to north (and then east into the river) on the site but have said that EDDC must make up their own minds about sustainability of the plan to raise the flood plain by around 3 metres by bringing in more than 1 million tons of infill in 100 plus lorries a day for 3-4 years.

We wait for the next stage with bated breath. Meanwhile, the SU4S councillors reiterate that they would be happy to reconsider the planning application in the light of new information.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What makes a GOOD seaside town?

Well, according to English Heritage:

English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley said: "Investing in the historic core of seaside towns is the essential first step in revitalising communities and giving residents a home with a soul.

"From fishing alleys to Victorian boulevards, from old docks and harbours to historic spas, we have lots of evidence to show that people and businesses flourish in places where local character and distinctiveness are being revived, often through physical renewal and re-use of historic buildings."

He added: "It is clear that seaside towns need to adapt and evolve. The historic environment should be recognised as an integral part of the search for a strengthened identity and a better future.

"It is what makes them loved, welcoming and unique in the first place, and provides a natural economic, geographic and civic focus for their regeneration."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do big stores equal regeneration?

I suppose it depends on your point of view. On the one hand, you could argue that big stores bring in more money and jobs, others say they "like" the type of shopping they provide.
On the other, you could point out that nearly everybody has one, the jobs are often of low pay, and the money goes to the stores shareholders and directors...and that the "like" factor is more to do with slick PR than it is to do with the customer (and for the cynical, the suppliers and workers).
A good place to start is with the Friends of the Earth from 2005....full pdf is at

Often local regeneration is seen as a way in. Tesco's 'Regeneration Partnerships' claim to work with other 'stakeholders' to go into 'less attractive areas' for the supermarket chain and create jobs amongst the long-term unemployed. Yet dependency on one store which may have destroyed any other options does not necessarily provide sustained employment nor broad training opportunities.
“These guys are professionals and are in for the long haul. They have plenty of experience from around the country in winning planning permission – from PR campaigns in the local press to planning experts and expensive lawyers. What can we, a bunch of amateurs, do to stop them?” A local resident in Shaftesbury, a Dorset market town which saw a campaign against a Tesco development.
In reality, communities often find themselves losing out when a store moves in…
• In Hodge Hill, Birmingham, the city council is currently proposing to sell off part of a playing field to Tesco.
• There is a significant threat to post offices since Tesco acquired the T&S convenience store chain, as the new Tesco Express format often means closing 'in-store' post offices leaving local communities without easy access to a post office. This has hit the elderly and infirm the hardest. From Swindon to Sittingborne, Taunton to Witney, in-house post offices have been closed by Tesco. In Hampton recently, despite strong reassurances in the past, Tesco has announced the closure of the post office it houses in its store.
• As a result of Tesco taking over two convenience store chains, residents living near these shops are having to get used to multiple, noisy, polluting ‘Just-in-Time’ deliveries. In Kew, residents near a local store converted to a Tesco Express hear deliveries form 6am to 11pm, which also block streets and cause local pollution. Libby Mitchell, a local resident, stated that “The noise is constant and the traffic has changed completely”.
The New Economics Foundation recently published their ‘clone town’ Britain survey, which describes the process of decline in diversity and choice for shoppers once big chain stores get hold of a high street. With Tesco plans to open more than 100 new stores in 2005 alone, the potential for ‘clone town’ spread is high.

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The cost of flooding

Flood defence money 'falls short'

Many parts of the UK were left under water in the summer floods
Insurers say they may not be able to provide cover despite the government pledging more money for flood defences.
The Association of British Insurers says the £800m a year the chancellor has pledged by 2011 is not enough.

more here

So the questions are, if the insurance industry want more investment, is there an underestimation of flood risk?
Does a 2 metre bank cut it?
Can Liatris afford it without severely curtailing other activities? (think community facilities here)


Monday, October 08, 2007

Small town on World Heritage coast wins battle with large superstore

Ballycastle traders foil retail giant's cause

Henry McDonald
Monday October 8, 2007
The Guardian

Legend has it that the Giant's Causeway was created for a battle between the Irish titan Finn MacCool and a giant from Scotland.

At Ballycastle, only a couple of miles down Northern Ireland's north Antrim coast from the world heritage site, a giant of the retail world has just lost a battle in its march across Ireland. But unlike Finn MacCool's trials, this struggle was between commercial Davids and a Goliath.

Tesco has suffered its first big setback in its building programme on both sides of the Irish border. Last week the UK supermarket leader abandoned plans to build an out-of-town store on the edge of Ballycastle after a campaign by local traders.

Traders in Castle and Anne Streets - the heart of this seaside town - were visibly relieved over Tesco's retreat.

Brian McLister, who owns a Costcutter mini-market in Anne Street, claimed the out-of-town centre "would have hollowed out the commercial life of Ballycastle". He added: "That site had been zoned for housing and that is what it should be for. This is a tourist town with a unique set of shops that people from all over Northern Ireland and beyond have been coming to for years. They would stop coming if the commercial centre had become a row of boarded up premises and charity shops. That's what would have happened if that store had been built."

The business leaders' campaign to stop Tesco gaining planning permission was backed by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association. They claimed that the proposed 47,000 sq ft shop would have generated annual turnover of £16m for Tesco. The trade group pointed out that the annual turnover of all the businesses in Ballycastle's commercial centre is only £12m. It alleged that the town's three butchers, four chemists and mini-markets would have faced ruin.

Bryan Gray of NIRTA said Tesco's pull-out "had probably saved the vitality and character of the town centre".

A spokeswoman for Tesco said: "We listened to the views of the people in the local area and, as a result of that, we have withdrawn our appeal and are reviewing our options."

The retailer, which accounts for a third of Britain's grocery market, operates 82 stores across Ireland and employs 10,200 people. Tesco has faced a rising number of high-profile public planning battles as it dominates many towns across Britain and it is increasingly looking for growth overseas. Next month the retailer launches its Fresh & Easy chain on the US west coast, where it plans to open 50 stores by March.

Not everyone in Ballycastle was happy to see Tesco retreat from the coastal town. Even those involved in the original plan to petition Moyle district council to refuse planning permission admitted many of their customers wanted Tesco.

One businessman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "I'm not giving you my name because since I first got involved in the campaign to stop Tesco, my business has taken a bit of a hit.

"I'm not apologising for the campaign though. If Tesco really want to come to Ballycastle then why not set up one of their smaller stores in the town centre. The Co-Op did it over a decade ago and they are ticking away nicely like the rest of us. Why can't Tesco do the same?"

Monday, October 01, 2007

Independent Stand Up For Seaton councillors opening their own blog site

This site will remain available for re-activation when the Liatris planning application springs back (which may be soon) so please do check it occasionally. In the meantime the Stand Up For Seaton independent councillors are about to open their own blog site to keep you up to date on what they are doing as councillors.

Watch this space for details very soon .....