Protestors lobby council on Tesco plans

AROUND 30 protesters lobbied councillors before a North Somerset Council planning meeting, objecting to proposals to turn a redundant pub in Portishead into a Tesco Express store.

They presented a petition containing 2,690 signatures against a Tesco in West Hill, in their quest to stop the supermarket giant moving into the area.

Members of the No West Hill Tesco group say they fear they have been given false hope after Eric Pickles, the Government’s Communities Secretary, wrote to North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox saying the move could be stopped. He said an Article 4 Direction could be brought in, which would trigger the need for Tesco to obtain planning permission before it could use the former pub as a shop. However, it has since been confirmed that if planning permission was then rejected, the local authority could be responsible for paying compensation to the supermarket.

Paul Dunn, chairman of the action group said: “This is a chance for North Somerset Council to show if they support the local community that has made its opposition to Tesco very clear. We need North Somerset Council to do what is right for the community, not what is cheapest for them.”

As it stands, Tesco does not need permission to trade from 60 West Hill, but it has submitted five planning applications relating to the installation of plant equipment, a cash machine, signage and knocking down a block of garages to build a car park. The applications for new signage and external alterations have been approved but plans to demolish the garages and create a car park are recommended for refusal.

Further reports have been requested relating to the plant equipment and the cash point application was refused by the council’s north area planning committee on Thursday.

The action group has also written to the licensing department urging the authority to reject Tesco’s application for a liquor licence.

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On December 12, between 6-11pm graffiti was sprayed on the wooden hoarding surrounding the proposed Tesco site.

Officers investigating the incident would like anyone with information about it to call them on 101 quoting crime reference number 134521/12.