Councillors miss Sainsbury’s debate

sainsburys tree

Sainsbury's and a threatened tree



Residents objecting to the new Sainsbury’s development have expressed their frustration after local councillors failed to take part in an open forum with Sainsbury’s planners.

The meeting at the Old Town Hall on July 5 was organised by Newtown Residents Association as part of their AGM. Usually a couple of Eastleigh councillors are on hand to listen to residents and answers questions however about 30 residents along with members of Eastleigh’s Safer Neighbourhoods team, the local area co-ordinator and representatives of Sainsbury’s heard chair Cecile Snell explain that no councillors were available due to ‘an emergency council meeting’.

The following day Eastleigh News was told by an Eastleigh Borough Council spokesman that there had been no emergency council meeting. Councillor Chris Thomas – chair of Eastleigh Local Area Committee – described the lack of available councillors as ‘unfortunate’ and told Eastleigh News that the meeting had been a private meeting of councillors with no agenda or minutes and that he was unable to say what the meeting had been about.

Despite the lack of elected members (who will be shortly voting on the planning application) the meeting was nevertheless lively. A short presentation by the Sainsbury’s team into the background for the application and a review of the claimed potential benefits for the town was followed by a question and answer session with residents who were anxious to discuss their concerns.

The Sainsbury’s team explained that recent retail studies commissioned by the council had suggested that the best way to halt the decline in shoppers visiting the town centre would be to develop a strong anchor store and that the Leigh Rd recreation ground was the only space left in the town centre on which to build.

Sainsbury’s said their plan would increase footfall in the town centre, benefitting traders creating more jobs and funding improvements to public open spaces and improving provision for public transport. However although several residents said welcomed improvements to the town centre they expressed strong concerns regarding:

  • Potential alcohol related ABS as a result of extended trading hours
  • Loss of the recreation ground park land and trees
  • Loss of street level public car parking
  • Appearance and longevity of the proposed building
  • Threat to the viability of the existing businesses in the Town centre.
  • Increased Traffic congestion and pollution.

Air Quality. Do you remember when that concrete ball used to be grey?

One resident described the recently completed Sainsbury’s superstore in Portswood as looking like “a mine shed” or a temporary structure but the representatives said the store was being built to last and was of a different design to the Portswood store.

Sainsbury’s claim that they will increase footfall in the town was queried by a local who claimed the supermarket giant had been leafleting residents with a £10 off voucher encouraging shoppers to stay at home and shop online.

In response Sainsbury’s team said that home deliveries were only a small part of its business.

Another resident demanded to know how would the park be improved by a reduction in size? How could a reduction be described as improvement?,

Sainsbury’s said that they would give a substantial sum  to the council to spend on park improvements but whether this money would be ring fenced and what specific use it would be put to was unclear and would be a matter for the council to decide.

Under pressure from the audience the Sainsbury’s team conceded that:

  • Over 5,000 square feet of the recreation ground will be built on
  • 47 trees will be lost from the Rec – but will only be replaced by 13
  • They intend to run night time deliveries by HGVs
  • They intend to extend current opening hours beyond 8pm

The head of the Sainsbury’s team insisted that, despite the clear opposition of the audience, 90% of Eastleigh’s residents are happy with the proposals – a statement which was met with disbelief – and that Sainsbury’s had no intention of changing or downsizing their plans.

Concerns like opening hours and night time deliveries were subject to negotiations with the council they said – although they saw no reason why any restrictions or conditions should placed on them.

After the meeting a Newtown mum of two said:

 “The fact that no elected official was there to listen at such an important stage in this planning process sends a very poor message. It is no surprise that people disengage from the democratic process.”

Adding:

“I feel I am entitled to know what important business kept elected councillors from hearing from the people they represent”

Another Newtown resident said:

“When I first received the leaflet that Sainsbury’s sent round I was all in favour. It was only later I realised that they wanted to take so much of the recreation ground. It’s awful’

Are you concerned about the Sainsbury’s development proposals?

You can view the application and comment online here

or you can lobby  the Local Area Committee Councillors below who will be voting on Sainsbury’s proposals in September.

They will be very keen to share their views!

Cllr Simon Bancroft (Lib Dem) 80650530 simon.bancroft@eastleigh.gov.uk

Cllr Wayne Irish (Lib Dem) 80328560 wayne.irish@eastleihg.gov.uk

Cllr Keith Trenchard(Lib Dem) 07523272153 keith.trenchard@eastleigh.gov.uk

Cllr Maureen Sollitt (Lib Dem) 80344394 maureen.sollitt@eastleigh.gov.uk

Cllr Chris Thomas (Lib Dem) 80907612 chris.thomas@eastleigh.gov.uk

Cllr Peter Wall (Lib Dem) 80261920 peter.wall@eastleigh.gov.uk

Cllr Paul Bicknell (Lib Dem) 07999739882 paul.bicknell@eastleigh.gov.uk

Cllr Darshaan Man (Lib Dem) N.B Cllr Man does not appear to own a telephone.  darshan.man@eastleigh.gov.uk

Cllr Steve Sollitt (Lib Dem) 80653790 steve.sollitt@eastleigh.gov.uk

See also:

New Chip Shop angers locals

HEBAG takes campaign to Town Council

and don’t miss Councillor votes against own motion which has the classic “I have a bit of an amendment” quote from Cllr House!

  16 comments for “Councillors miss Sainsbury’s debate

  1. July 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    “…a private meeting of councillors with no agenda or minutes…”…..?

    I’d expect that to happen in North Korea but not here in the UK, in Eastleigh, in what is allegedly a democracy…

    • Stephen Slominski
      July 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      No. In North Korea they have ‘secret meetings’.
      There are no ‘secret’ meetings in Eastleigh, only ‘private’ ones!

      • July 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm

        Well it would have been secret if you hadn’t got wind of it and enquired.

        Where was this private meeting publicised…?

        We might not be allowed to attend, but the public should at least be told that the private meeting is taking place…

  2. Stephen Slominski
    July 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    The mind boggles Ray.
    I don’t think it was a lodge night.
    The area co-ordinator was at the NRA meeting…
    Surely they are not meeting up to decide which way they are going to vote on planning applications because they are supposed to keep an open mind and decide after all the evidence has been presented.
    Planning meetings are supposed to be ‘quasi judicial’ you know!
    There were no opposition members present so they weren’t all needed for a vote.
    Surely they could have spared at least one member to come along and answer questions like
    What are the improvements to the park? (they must know because they say what a good thing they are in ‘Focus’.)
    So if wasn’t something important like a planning,council or a lodge meeting…what was it?
    We will probably never know.
    But I would hate to think they rated a political or a social meeting as more important then representing residents.

    • July 22, 2012 at 10:42 am

      “A lodge meeting”….?

      Do we know how many Borough Councillors, the people who are currently deciding where 1000’s of new homes will be built, are members of the secret-handshake brigade…?

      Or is that a secret too…?

      • Stephen Slominski
        July 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

        My comment is slightly tongue in cheek Ray.
        As far as I know Cllr Trenchard is the only member who has declared he is a Freemason in his register of interests – good on him for that.
        Five Hampshire County Councillors (four conservative and one Lib Dem) have declared they are Freemasons in the HCC register.
        I think it would be naif to imagine they are the only ones.
        There is no legal obligation on members to make such a declaration but I hope any other masons will follow Cllr Trenchard’s commendable lead.
        As a voter this is something I would like to know, I’m sure other voters would too.
        This is 2012, not 1953.

        • July 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm

          I’d quite like to know too.

          Even if they don’t want to come completely out of the closet, I don’t see why EBC can’t publish a simple head-count of the number of Councillors who are also Freemasons.

          If it only amounts to 5% of the Council there’s less to worry about than if it were 80%…

          • Rolled up trousered philanthropist
            July 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

            I thought it was a requirement of all Councillors on election to declare all membership of clubs/groups/societies etc. This is to avoid a conflict of interest.

            At least one member of Hedge End Town Council is a fully fledged Mason – there must be others. This is not healthy.

  3. July 22, 2012 at 10:17 am

    This planning application has already been decided by the Fib Dems. It is going to be green lighted and rubber stamped when it comes before the ELAC planning meeting. The fact that the Council will not release any details of meetings they have had with Sainsbury’s just goes to show that this has been an under the table deal, despite my best efforts to get to the truth with Freedom of Information Requests that have been refused and refused again on appeal. I am now making a request for the same information from the Data Commissioner as there is clearly wrong doing going on here.

    • Stephen Slominski
      July 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

      I agree that judging by the tone of recent Focus leaflets extolling the virtues of Sainsbury’s and also by the way they are keen to avoid entering into any dialogue with objectors, Councillors are minded to approve plans even though the planning department has yet to make a recommendation.
      So much for all their guff on ‘quasi judicial roles’ and ‘laws on predetermination’ (this goes for Stoneham too.)
      I too feel its wrong, clearly wrong that we can’t see details of their business meetings but it’s not illegal as such matters can be deemed to involve disclosure of ‘sensitive’ commercial information and would be exempt from publication.

  4. July 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Government,Citizens and rights
    Councillors are elected by the local community
    and Are There To Represent its Views.
    The work of a councillor includes holding surgeries to help local people,supporting local
    organisations, campaigning on local issuse and developing links with all parts of the community.
    Sam Snook.

  5. wavatar
    Eastleigh Xpress
    July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I thought it was a requirement of all Councillors on election to declare allmembership of clubs/groups/societies etc.This isto avoid a conflict of interest.

    I believe there is no statutory requirement to do so – it’s up to them. Only one Cllr feels comfortable with disclosing masonic links.
    You could argue that the freemasons are an outside body that seeks to “influence public opinion or policy” (Didn’t they assassinate Diana on Prince Phillip’s orders?)but in any case standards have just been changed so only items relating to pecuniary interests need to be registered (including those of a spouse).
    Members can still still declare any potential prejudicial interests if they crop up during meetings.

  6. Stuart Jebbitt
    July 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Why would they come? Especially since it’s probably already a done deal. any ‘consultations’ now will just be window dressing.
    I’m confused as to how you can ‘improve’ the rec by ripping up trees and building on it. No amount of money can make up for the loss of green space, you can’t improve on mother nature. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for all future generations.

  7. Stuart Jebbitt
    August 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Might I suggest to the council that they now preserve what will be left of the rec by applying for it to be protected under the QE2 fields scheme?
    http://www.qe2fields.com/
    Having seen one large chunk eaten away by the Point and now another large chunk disappearing at the other end for the benefit of Sainsburys, I don’t feel the rec is valued enough by those in power.

    • Stephen Slominski
      August 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

      Agreed Stuart.
      The rec should be put into trust with FIT.
      It’s not just this administration that has been developing it – remember the car park that was built it on it?
      Over the years there have been tennis courts, bowling greens..
      It has to be protected from politicians of any hue using it as a disposable asset.
      They cannot be trusted with the stewardship of our green open spaces.

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