Another Tesco in Hereford? We don’t think so!

Supermarket giant Tesco have announced plans to open another store in the city. They are currently in talks with Enterprise Inns, the owner of the Gamecock pub on Holme Lacy Road, in a bid to open a Tesco Express on the site.

But plans have already met with opposition from locals who see no need for another store in the area that already has two similar shops close by.

Soon after plans were announced Cllr Chris Chappell called a demonstration outside the Gamecock; a petition has been started and has now been signed by over 1,000 people from the area; more recently, Hereford Solidarity League organized a picket outside Tesco’s Bewell Street branch. The majority of shoppers we spoke to there were overwhelmingly against another Tesco store in the city–why do we need another one when they have three stores already?

The Gamecock has now closed but it is still on the market as a pub. With the right landlord, this important asset could be turned into the thriving community pub it once was. Yet there is more than just a pub at stake. Holme Lacy Road has two small supermarkets, a pet supplies shop, a greengrocer/florist and an off license/post office, all within 150 yards of the proposed Tesco store. All of them, apart from Co-op, are independent family run businesses, and are open seven days a week, selling competitively priced produce.

Greenflynns the grocer have been there for four years, and buy their produce almost entirely from local sources–all their vegetables and most of their fruit is grown in Herefordshire. Their free range eggs, honey, jam, pickles, strawberries, apple juice and flowers also come from all over Herefordshire–healthy food with a minimum of environmental damage. They have over 10 local grower/suppliers who would all be affected if this shop were to go under.

The only benefit of having a Tesco open on this stretch of road would be for Tesco themselves and at the detriment to all the existing businesses there.

A public meeting has been called to organise opposition to Tesco’s plans. It takes places on Friday 22nd October, 6pm at the Baptist Church Hall, Web Tree Avenue.

Whoever you vote for, It’s Still THEIR County

Central ward councillor Mark Hubbard launched his new political party this September to a packed out Shire Hall of almost 200 people.

It’s Our County claims to be “a new kind of political party dedicated to returning democracy to Herefordshire and to finding local solutions to local problems”. They are now campaigning ahead of next year’s local elections under the broad banner of ‘change’. But hang on, haven’t we heard all of this before? Blair in 1997; Obama in 2008; Cameron in 2010.What we quickly find out is that they’re just more of the same.

It’s Our County was formed out of It’s Our City, the campaign against the Edgar Street Grid. It’s Our City now looks set to be wound up at the decision of those involved in It’s Our County, despite the fact that firm plans are still in place for the ESG development.

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Since its launch in September last year, It’s Our City has dragged its feet over the ESG issue. Over the course of a year it has amounted to little more than a petition and it has failed to mobilise its 13,000 supporters–a campaign against a major development like the ESG cannot be fought with the single tactic of a petition alone.

In November when the petition was presented to the council we organised a feeder march to arrive at the time of the presentation. Despite repeated requests, they refused to advertise the march because it might lose them their air of respectability. For us the choice was simple: did they want to look respectful or did they want to win, because you can’t always have both.

When the petition failed we pushed for action: pickets at council meetings, marches, mass street meetings and rallies, occupations of council buildings … whatever it took. Many people told us that it was time for It’s Our City to take a more militant approach. Not knowing where to go next, the campaign went into near shutdown, emerging months later with its key members planning a new political party–It’s Our County.

It’s hard not to be cynical about this–was It’s Our City just a strategy to galvanise support for a future political party? Have they ridden on the backs of discontent over the ESG just to gain power for themselves?

It’s Our County is now claiming to be a more serious fight against not only the ESG but the council’s ‘growth agenda’ as a whole–the plan to build 8,000 new houses and a bypass in Hereford.

What we’re fed up with is Herefordshire Council making all the decisions for us. But It’s Our County will be more of the same. If they take control of the council next year it will still be ‘them’ making the decisions and ‘us’ who get no say. Their version of ‘democracy’ is exactly the same as all the others: we get a vote once every four years and if you don’t like what they do in between then tough!

No more leaders, No more political parties, let’s have some genuine people power instead.

Herefordshire’s own Houdini – ESG becomes Hereford Futures

To walk away from the smouldering car wreck that was ESG Ltd without a scratch, then calmly settle behind the wheel of an even larger ‘development vehicle’, the supercharged Hereford Failures shows recklessness even Top Gear’s Richard Hammond would admire.

Yet that is just what ESG’s former chief executive, Jonathan Bretherton, has done, becoming CEO of Herefordshire Council’s renamed development company Hereford Failures, which will be “…taking its lead (according to a saccharine-flavoured council Press statement) from the priorities voiced by residents in the council’s successful (sic) Shaping Our Place consultation…”.

The statement is long on Blairite hyperbole but short on hard facts.

Hereford Failures, it seems, is to be charged with [deep breath] creating new and better-paid jobs, affordable homes, vibrant communities, an energy-efficient urban village, new retail and leisure attractions, a new relief road, a second river crossing, all flood alleviation engineering work, [inhale] sustainable transport projects (including improved public transport connections), the creation of a higher education campus, strategic business parks for knowledge-based industries… oh yeah, and a retail quarter on the Edgar Street grid site and a new link road. Same as before then.

Council 1-0 It’s Our City

For the superstitious, Friday 13th is a day known for its unluckiness. And so opponents of the Edgar Street Grid project did their best to make Friday 13th November a very unlucky day for the council.

Hereford Solidarity League members and supporters marched on the Shire Hall displaying banners and joining up with the hundreds of It’s Our City supporters their to lobby the council.

A petition signed by almost 10,000 signatures in just ten weeks in opposition to the ESG was handed over to Cllr John Stone. Inside the meeting a motion had also been put forward to suspend the project.

But luck was never going to be enough. In the face of such strong opposition, the ruling Tory group voted down the motion by a huge majority. It became clear that Herefordshire Council–for now–are intend on carrying on with their development.

Like the council, we too believe that Hereford needs developing, but not in the way that they are proposing. We don’t need more empty shops, we need to support our existing local and independent retailers. The council obviously believe that our lives are less fulfilled without large shopping centres, but we don’t need them. What Hereford needs is more housing, more community-controlled projects. We need a new library, better sports, media and arts facilities–somewhere we are proud to call home!

Hereford is a creative, vibrant and unique place. We have one of the best art colleges in the Midlands, a technical college that turns out hundreds of useful engineers, nurses and social workers every year.

Think of your favourite towns and cities to visit: Hay-on-Wye for its unique secondhand bookshops, Ludlow for its food and history, and even Birmingham for something different. Hereford is one of those last remaining market cities where homegrown products like food and drink, arts and crafts can still trade on an independent level. Creating a shopping complex and splitting the city in two will destroy Hereford’s character and atmosphere. Local pubs, shops, restaurants will close under the enormous competition that will arise from moving the beautifully developed city centre–that now revolves around the Black & White House across–to the cattle market, further north of the river.

So it may be one-nil to the council, but this fight is far from over. We will not stand by and see our city ruined. See you for the second leg.