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£10k parish poll over Brixham Tesco plan 'selfish waste of time and money'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 23, 2012

Brixham Town Hall

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A £10,000 PARISH poll on whether Brixham wants a Tesco development has been branded a 'waste of time and money'.

The referendum, to be paid for by taxpayers in the port, will ask residents in the Brixham parish wards of Berry Head with Furzeham and St Mary's with Summercombe a single question — are they in favour of any Tesco town centre supermarket scheme or not?

But town councillor Chris Lomas said spending tax payers' money on the poll was 'a selfish waste of time and money'.

And another couple have claimed the poll does not stand up in law.

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Cllr Lomas attacked the Brixham Residents Against Tesco Supermarket protest group, saying: "If the people from BRATS want a parish poll, why don't they pay for it?

"This is a waste of time and money. It is very selfish to use other people's money."

Torbay and Brixham councillor Mike Morey, who chaired a public parish meeting where the poll call was made, said: "Of course, we have to watch the pennies, but at least it will gauge public opinion. When a parish poll is called, we have a duty to carry it out. That's the price to pay for democracy."

The poll will take place on Thursday, March 22, between 4pm and 9pm.

Leya Ostell, of the BRATS campaigners, denied the move was a waste of cash.

She said: "It is a way of getting Torbay Council to listen to the feelings of the people of Brixham."

The public meeting was held at Brixham College to hear people's views on the Tesco plans.

No-one from the supermarket chain attended.

Kevin Atkinson, of Torbay Development Agency, told the meeting it was Tesco's national policy never to attend public meetings.

The Tesco scheme comprises a 32,000 sq ft store, 10 town houses, 7,000sq ft of apartment space and 350 parking spaces.

Mr Atkinson told the meeting: "Torbay Council and the TDA have conveyed their concerns to Tesco representatives about the design and told them we would not be able to recommend their proposal for approval in its present form.

"Tesco were asked to come back with a more sympathetic approach to their design.

"They have confirmed they will have a rethink."

The heated meeting was attended by more than 200 people.

Julie Richardson, from BRATS, said the group had collected 1,000 signatures against the development.

She claimed: "The supermarket will cause considerable harm to the vitality of the local economy."

She added: "It will cause a massive disturbance in the town for traders especially during the 18 months it takes to build the store."

Resident Peter Kinnick said: "Most people already turn their back on the town and do their shopping in out of town supermarkets.

"If Tesco comes, people will stay in town and spend their money here."

Trader Keith Williams said the idea of a supermarket in the town was largely supported by people but not the scheme proposed by Tesco.

However, fellow trader Paul Brady said the disturbance caused during the construction period would hit businesses.

A spokesman for Albourne Property, which is working with Tesco on the scheme, said neither company had been invited to the public meeting.

He added: "We remain committed to the regeneration of this important town centre scheme.

"We are currently reviewing elements of the external design, taking on board relevant feedback received as a result of the exhibition, with a view to submitting a planning application at the end of spring."

Brixham lawyers Michael and Sue Furminger, claim the poll does not comply with the Local Government Act 1972.

The couple, who attended the public meeting, have written to the town council claiming there is the possibility of a judicial review.

Mr Furminger said: "When essential local government services are being cut this is no time to be spending council tax payers' money on a vote that won't decide anything."

A spokeswoman for Brixham Town Council said everything had been done above board.

She added: "The town council has no power or veto over a parish poll when called for, nor over the question. The town council does not carry out the poll and the chairman of either the town council or the parish meeting has no power in law to prevent 10 electors from calling a poll."

A Torbay Council spokesman said: "A poll has been called for in accordance with legislation.

"The poll is run by Torbay Council but the cost is paid for by Brixham Town Council.

"The poll is advisory only and its result is not binding on the council."

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  • trev_wright  |  March 01 2012, 6:11PM

    Last year Chris Lomas mortgaged his home for £130,000 to provide our local Youth Enquiry Service with the funds to purchase the former United Reformed Church after they lost their base at the town hall. Without him YES (now The Edge) would not exist. Chris Lomas selfish? I think not.

  • hichisson  |  February 29 2012, 9:59PM

    Councillor Lomas is selfish as he is one of two Brixham councillors who takes his money from us. fun that he said "i will not take my allowance". But he also ask for 2 years back pay.

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  • MBlubber  |  February 28 2012, 4:55PM

    "A £10,000 PARISH poll to be paid for by taxpayers" Brilliant waste of money. I for one will be voting in FAVOUR of tesco's building this. It is about time smelly brixham got with the times. They should build more i say :)

    |   -7
  • reiwruwiou  |  February 28 2012, 4:09PM

    Mikelist66, that is my point - people are saying that the vote shouldn't go ahead as it is "a waste of money", yet it will be the first time anyone has actually asked the people of Brixham if they want Tesco to come to town. People are voting to show how they feel about the development - it would be much cheaper to just ignore their views and press on regardless. Some don't like the idea of a big supermarket, others just don't trust Tesco (who haven't exactly covered themselves with glory in such matters) with such a key piece of the town's development. Some have concerns over the way things are going to be implemented (with the town's main shopping car park being closed for 18 months). Some like the idea. As I said, people voted to have a town council to try and take back some of the power from Torbay Council - if the latter keep on ignoring the wishes of the Brixham residents then it isn't wildly farfetched to think that Brixham could pull out from Torbay Council control and go to South Hams (the Hillhead area is already under South Hams District Council control.)

    |   5
  • mikelister66  |  February 28 2012, 2:00PM

    reiwruwiou - the Brixham residents had their right to democracy when they elected councillors to make decisions on their behalf. So don't sensationalise that peoples right to vote is being taken away.

  • reiwruwiou  |  February 28 2012, 10:17AM

    What price democracy? I'm sure we could save a lot of money if we just did away with people's right to vote. Torbay Council has to realise that if (and I mean IF) Brixham residents voted against the development and those at Torquay Town hall just went ahead and bulldozed it through anyway, then pressure would start to grow for Brixham to leave Torbay and come under South Hams (remember, part of Brixham already comes under the auspices of South Hams District Council.) This would mean that Paignton and Torquay would end up having to finance a unitary authority all on their own - not great. I seem to recall that the last poll resulted in a decidedly lukewarm approval for the Oxen Cove development, which now seems to have been sidelined. Personally, I think Tesco only wanted to come to Brixham because there was no other option - now they have Edginswell I wouldn't be suprised if they find some excuse for pulling out of the port.

    |   1
  • andy063  |  February 26 2012, 8:07PM

    Sorry - should be 'their own way' not 'there own way'

  • andy063  |  February 26 2012, 8:06PM

    Can't say I'm a great fan of Tesco, but can't help but feel that it would be better for people who live above harbour level, St Mary's etc. to drive down into town and visit a supermarket in Brixham rather than drive elsewhere. We have some good shops in town; co-op, butchers, bakery, green-grocers newsagents and plenty of other services; and there's no reason why they can't all benefit from the additional retail presence. The existing retailers will only fail if local people don't support them and run to Tesco for everything because a one-stop shop is cheaper or easier. Use Tesco as a benefit and a means to increase footfall in the town, it's upto people not to let them have all there own way.

    |   -4
  • milesnagop  |  February 25 2012, 7:41PM

    A 32,000 square foot supermarket? In the middle of Brixham? Are they completely mad?

    |   7
  • chillster  |  February 25 2012, 9:46AM

    Loss of character for Brixham if Tesco plans allowed – hum Let's just review this for a second. Are we talking of the character provided by drugged up teenagers and benefit cheats that haunt the town car park, are we talking of the local traders tacky gift shops mostly open for the influx of fat tourists, are we talking of the idiotic pirate theme days. I think the loss of character provided by Tesco's may well be a good thing.