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LOTS Hijack Council's Special Meeting PDF Print E-mail
Supermarket Debate
Written by John Eager   
Friday, 07 October 2011 11:53

Ledbury Town Council decided last night to add supporting arguments to their proposal of two weeks ago to reject the Tesco planning application. The 'add-on' was supported by 8 councilors, with 9 abstaining and one refusing to vote. The council  decided to use the reasons put forward by Rich Hadley of LOTS (Ledbury Opposes Tesco Superstore) as its supporting argument.



LOTS effectively hijacked the meeting with Mr Hadley delivering a calm, measured and intelligent rejection of Tesco's planning application to councilors.

Handing over a 3,578 name petition to the mayor Mr Hadley then outlined why the council should reject Tesco's planned move. He told council the application was counter to the Policy Framework, both local and national; that it was contrary to the Unitary Development Plan which stated that no extra retail space was needed in Ledbury for a further 14 years and that existing employment land should be maintained; that LOTS impact report by an independent top London firm Dalton Warner Davis revealed that the Tesco build was likely to undermine the viability of the town centre and, finally, that Tesco had not produced a sequential assessment exploring other possibilities, including the development of its current site.

Mr Hadley told the council that the impact report predicted that the Co-Op would be forced to close, losing consumer choice and car parking for Ledbury shoppers and that new low-profit enterprizes would take over the High Street. Businesses such as charity shops and takeaways would pay lower rents causing landlords to spend less on the upkeep of heritage buildings.

Councilor Jupp told council to accept these conclusions as supporting arguments to the resolution council passed two weeks ago. Mr Jupp wanted to add one other reason stating that the Tesco plan would interfere with Ledbury's Charter Market.

Before the vote was taken councilor Bradford asked how the council could vote on a document being used as an 'add-on' that they had not even read.

Before the vote councilors had a debate which centred on what went wrong at the meeting two weeks ago, rather than the merits of LOTS and Councilor Jupp's 'add-on' to the resolution.

Councilor Martin Eager told council he was 'bemused and confused' that they had had their chance two weeks ago, but instead of properly debating the issue, council had 'squabbled' which led to a 'confused vote'. He went on to describe that meeting as a 'shambolic farce' and questioned whether after debating the issue again certain councilors might want to change their minds.

He reminded council that this was the most important planning decision they had faced in the last ten years.

Councilor Eager asked whether the council would behave the same way when the Sainsbury's proposal needed to be debated.

'I feel cheated' he ended up saying, and repeated himself 'I feel cheated.' When it came to the vote, councilor Eager again refused to take part.

Councilor Cooper attempted to apologise to the town on behalf of the council saying that the council had not acted responsibly, however she was interrupted by councilor Bradford who told her to 'speak for yourself' and not to apologise for others.

Councilor Watt, who also stands on Herefordshire Council and will vote there on the Tesco planning application, appeared to scold the council saying it had been 'tied in a knot' but now, tonight, 'they can do it' - presumably he meant the council accept these add-ons to the original resolution of two weeks ago.

Councilor Francis, who had been away during the first vote, asked why none of the more experienced councilors two weeks ago had not intervened and demanded that supporting arguments be attached to the resolution.

Last night's special meeting potentially raises more questions than it attempted to answer:

How will Tesco's supporters react to the council (or half of its councilors) using the LOTS statement as its own supporting arguments?

Why couldn't councilors find their own supporting arguments?

Why didn't council do this two weeks ago, as it should have done?

How could councilors who abstained two weeks ago, now vote in favour of these supporting arguments?

Can Herefordshire Council accept these 'add-ons' two weeks late? Are these 'add-ons' acceptable in law?

Was this 'special' meeting held according to the council's own standing orders?

Should the town council have Herefordshire councilors standing on it, who because of their first affiliation, refuse to debate issues like these and will not vote on them? How can councilor Watts say 'they can do it' when he is referring to his own council? Surely any other councilor would say 'we can do it'? Where do their affinities lie?

Councilors have been criticised for abstaining on these crucial votes. Why does half the council not have a view (yes or no) to this, or if they do why are they hiding it?

On at least two occasions the mayor, councilor Conway, who was chairing the meeting, was abruptly told by councilors how to proceed correctly. This is the same councilor who chaired the 'shambolic farce' two weeks ago, the 'squabble' that councilors mocked and then felt the need to apologise to the town for.

Does councilor Conway need guidance and support on council procedure, protocol and chairing meetings?

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2011 14:00
Comments (52)
Re Hijack Headline
52 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 15:49
jolene bloise
I`m glad you have replied though John simply because it gives people who did not attend an idea of what took place exactly.

I also appreciate being given the chance to take part in an open debate as said earlier by Michael Lever.
Hijack Headline
51 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 15:04
John Eager
After getting a certain amount of criticism by some LOTS members, I want to put my side regarding this 'hijack' headline.

I don't know why I'm having to explain myself to intelligent people, but there is a certain amount of deliberate naivety going on here.

Firstly, the point of a headline is to draw in the readers' attention to the article. This succeeded, although, ironically, the headline almost 'hijacked' the rest of the article.

Secondly, there is always a certain amount of ellipsis in a headline. Perhaps a more accurate headline would have read 'LOTS' Argument (about Tesco.....) Hijacks Council's Special Meeting (about....) But of course that contains ellipsis too.

That's why headlines and articles are not the same. They have different functions.

Now why did I use the term 'hijack' - for sensationalism, no, I couldn't think of a more accurate term to describe what I witnessed - and I wasn't the only one.

LOTS' argument put forward by Mr Hadley had the effect of 'steering' the meeting away from its purpose. It put the meeting 'off course' as the council then did not bother to debate their own reasons. By 'steering it off' course LOTS' argument effectively 'took control' of the meeting.

Other councilors put forward their reasons, but they were not debated and not voted on.

Only LOTS' arguments (with one add-on by councilor Jupp - again not debated) were voted on. In fact LOTS' arguments were not even debated.

There was no debate.

It was a coup (metaphorically speaking)
Bulldoze revisited
50 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:13
You know when a group is worrying when they have to publish an explination to their actions and their members can only pick faults with someones word choice.

I'm almost glad that LOTS have done this as it has certainly put the backs up on a number of people and galvenized them to stand up and be counted (Those are Ledbury residents backs by the way LOTS, not people from Devon or Cornwall etc etc)
49 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 07:27
Andrew Harrison
Debbie, attending a Town Council meeting is a democratic right open to all members of the public.
Yet another shambles of a meeting
48 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 06:21
Debbie Baker
I knew Ledbury was in trouble, but to the extent that the council cannot conduct a meeting in the manner it is supposed to? If the council behaves this way then we cannot expect anything more then the scenes that was witnessed at the second meeting. It seems to me as if the Councillors are not competent enough to deal with the job in hand or give their own reasons for doing so, so then have to fall back on a group that likes to bulldoze its way into meetings and pretend they represent the majority of Ledbury. Well Lots you certainly don't. You worry about Tesco's bringing the town down, I think you need to look a lot closer to home, because the council is doing a good enough job on its own.
47 Monday, 10 October 2011 18:17
No matter what is written here, it still remains that Ledbury Council were backed into a corner as soon as Councillor Jupp made a motion for the LOTS report to be added to the councils orginal report. LOTS knew that those who abstained before were more than likely to do so again and therefore they would get their majority vote to include their alleged findings.

Anything else said here by LOTS is just a smoke screen.
Lee Smith and Petition
46 Monday, 10 October 2011 17:59
Save Ledbury
The Ledbury Opposes Tesco Superstore page is for supporters of the anti-Ledbury Tesco superstore campaign. Lee, you asked a reasonable question for which you received a reasonable reply. This is what we said:

‎@Lee: thank you for your comment. Almost everyone we speak to is opposed to the out of town superstore - which just goes to show that working from your own individual perspective doesn't necessarily give you a scientifically valid result. The petition is a statement of support for the anti-Ledbury superstore campaign. We have never claimed that it represents all sections of opinion from Ledbury and surrounds. Signatures were collected from the High Street from people who love Ledbury as it is, and wish to see its unique town centre protected from the crushing onslaught of an out of town multinational intent on sucking up trade that is currently spent in independent shops and local produce/ products. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and nobody is stopping pro-supermarket people organising their own campaign. Good luck with anyway and thanks for dropping by. By the way - this is a Ledbury Opposes Tesco Superstore facebook page so it's really a place for people who don't want the out of town superstores built. I think you have a 'LESS' facebook group that supports your aims.

And then in response to another question from you:

Everyone can look at this page. But it's up to us what gets posted. The clue is in the title. Like we said Lee, thanks for stopping by and talking about our petition, which we're proud of. So can we leave it there?

You weren't rudely banned: all that happened was that a halt was called to that thread, that's all. We do have to moderate the page carefully, just like your friends on LESS/LATS do too.

The LOTS facebook page isn't a debating chamber. It's a communications tool for our campaign. Sorry if there's any confusion - this issue does seem to crop up from time to time.

Once again, thanks for the question concerning the provenance and status of the petition - it's all in order from a procedural point of view and has been presented to Herefordshire Council for their scrutiny.

best wishes
Ledbury Portal - congratulations are in order
45 Monday, 10 October 2011 17:15
Michael Lever
In my opinion, Ledbury Portal is to be congratulated for providing a forum for debate and discussion. The comments/content on LOTS (Save Ledbury) is not open for debate and LATS/LESS on Facebook is not open. And Ledbury Reporter is not really a medium for banter. Whereas here on Ledbury Portal, not only do we get much more of an insight into what is actually going on/being said between the two opposing camps, but also we can contribute comments in the hope that even though they may be met with cryptic replies from the camp supporters there remains the possibility of others rising above and taking notice.

Not really that long ago, life in Ledbury was about being born here, going to school and working and socialising in Ledbury, and many shopkeepers were actively involved in the social fabric of the community. Nowadays, Ledbury has the feel of a commuter town, many local traders do not live in the area, let alone send their children to school here, and there are many more residents in Ledbury that go to Malvern, Hereford, Gloucester, etc for their supermarket shopping. Not that long ago I can remember strangers passing one another in the street would bid good morning, or whatever, whereas nowadays people just walk by without so much as an acknowledgement.

If you really want to know about Ledbury's shops, then I suggest reading the article "Ledbury Shopping In The Late 1930s" by Pip Powell on Ledbury Portal. The number of shops that have changed ownership over the years is not I think out of line with what would be reasonably expected within retailing dynamics but at least those shops were into longevity. Nowadays, many small shops that are leased only commit to a 2 or 3 years tenancy, suggesting little confidence in their business model. Ledbury has always had a high number of shops selling virtually identical products, but somehow they did not compete with one another so much as complement, whereas nowadays many newer local traders have deliberately opened to compete, never mind the consequences for established Ledbury traders. Arguably the application from Tesco and possibly Sainsbury's is no different to what many newer traders in Ledbury have done themselves: it's just that an out-of-town scheme is on a grand scale and sends shivers down the spine of the newer local trader's bank balance.
44 Monday, 10 October 2011 16:55
Hello Lee
I was only one of the people involved in collecting for the petition ...The honest answer is that it will be for the planning department to analyse its worth. The petition is only one part of the evidence and while I am not putting down its significance, and as I said to your fellow LATS members, I feel that it will be the number of letters from Ledbury residents to the planning dept.that will be very interesting. We will know the extent of opposition from LOTS or support from LATS/LESS when the numbers of letters are published.
Superstore for Ledbury
43 Monday, 10 October 2011 16:26
I think an open & honest debate is key as mentioned before many times by the Less group. Deleting relevant posts & blocking people who ask perfectly simple questions on Save Ledbury site or LOTS fb page actually speaks volumes does it not. People are perfectly able to sign petitions for any part of the country or world they chose of course but the final say should really be in the hands of those that actually live in Ledbury or at least live in the HR8 postcode, this is just simple common sense surely, as they are the only ones truly affected by not having a decent, affordable & escential food & disposable goods option in town & sufficient enough size to service the current residents at the moment, which will become even more desperately required when the new homes on the Hereford Rd end of Ledbury town happen!
In my opinion the People of Ledbury & HR8 postcode only should decide on what happens in their town, & no need for rudeness or ridicule from anyone either!
42 Monday, 10 October 2011 15:47
Lee Smith
After being banned from the LOTS "OPEN" facebook page for asking a reasonable question regarding the 3573 names on their petition I will ask the same question on here.
Why is it that eveyone I have spoken to at work (I work for the biggest employer in Ledbury)friends and family most of which have lived in Ledbury all our lives agree with having a new superstore.How many of the names on the petition are traders and residents or even work in Ledbury?
this is a quote from the reply i recieved,
"Signatures were collected from the High Street from people who love Ledbury as it is, and wish to see its unique town centre protected from the crushing onslaught of an out of town multinational intent on sucking up trade that is currently spent in independent shops and local produce/ products."

I then stated that it seems to me that the oppinion of someone who likes Ledbury how it is but lives the other side of the country matters more than someone who has lived or worked here all their lives
and asked if the petition was brought into question by that statement.
I was then rudely deleted and banned from posting any other questions
Please tell me if i have been rude or done anyone disfavour as i only wanted an answer to a reasonable question.
Missing essentials
41 Monday, 10 October 2011 14:32
Andrew Warmington
Jolene, you might be surprised to know that many LOTS members would sympathise to a degree. There probably is a good case for more retail space in Ledbury at some point, what we are opposed to is the grotesque size and the out-of-town location of what is being offered.

What I would ask is (1) What are the essentials you can't get here? and (2) What makes you believe that a new Sainsbury's or Tesco on Leadon Way would have these when the current range of shops don't? This is a genuine question.
Support for LESS
40 Monday, 10 October 2011 13:30
jolene bloise
Despite what everyone says I firmly believe that a larger store is exactly what Ledbury needs and has needed for some time now.
I am as passionate about my hometown as the rest of you.But I cannot and do not have the luxury of shopping in the majority of boutique shops that are here in our town.
In order to buy certain essentials I hop in my car and drive to the nearest city as do the majority of people here.
I have had many conversations with many local people and they all agree and want and understand the need for a larger store.I speak on behalf of what I believe the majority of Ledbury want when I say this.
I fully support LESS and appreciate all the hard work they`ve put into the campaign.They are forward thinking and have the best intentions for this town and the people in it.Well done to you all.Without you our voices may be drowned out by people who don`t want to progress and move with the times.Keep up the good work!
Satirical genius!
39 Monday, 10 October 2011 13:28
Andrew Warmington
For a ghastly moment, I thought Michael was seriously suggesting there might be a big issue here, with two competing groups both having the word 'Ledbury' in their title when they want opposite things for Ledbury.

And I was thinking to myself 'Surely no-one's so daft as to think that? No-one on either side ever claimed to represent the whole town and no-one in Ledbury's so daft as to think they did.'

Then I calmed down and realised he was just winding us all up with an elaborate in-joke. Absolute comic brilliance. You must share it with the lawyer you see. Lord knows they could do with a laugh.
38 Monday, 10 October 2011 13:24
Michael Lever
I've just discovered that Ledbury is a registered trade mark, (reference: E6696702, registered 8 January 2009.)
another reply to Michael
37 Monday, 10 October 2011 13:21
Hello Again
Do you mean that you also object to LATS Ledbury approves Tesco Superstore ? or LESS Ledbury Supports Sainsburys ?
I personally would not object to you setting up " 'LOOTS' - Ledbury Openly Opposes Tesco Supermarket - or such like! Or LUST - Ledbury Urges Sainsbury's Trading."
I do not think you would have much support though !! On second thoughts you may for L.U.S.T. ......if it was an internet site as there could be a misunderstanding by some people about its purpose !!!!
Reply to Valerie
36 Monday, 10 October 2011 13:00
Michael Lever
"Where did you get the idea that LOTS are speaking for the whole of Ledbury?...I have never thought that we were speaking for anyone other than a very effective group called LOTS ( so called before the Sainsburys plan was public knowledge)....just as LATS /LESS are "

Good afternoon, Valerie,

By including 'Ledbury' as part of the campaign a clear message or strong implication is given, particularly to the wider public, that it is indeed Ledbury as a whole that is in opposition, as distinct from a small team of concerned residents and local traders and their supporters.

There is I suggest a difference between a shop, business or community organisation calling itself, for example, Ledbury Foods, or Ledbury Knitting Society where the purpose of the shop or organisation is self-evident. When a campaign group uses the name of the town and attaches it to an opposition to something that affects the town as a whole then I think that is possibly illegal through misrepresentation; or at least morally wrong.

If I am wrong then presumably there would be no objection to my setting up 'LOOTS' - Ledbury Openly Opposes Tesco Supermarket - or such like! Or LUST - Ledbury Urges Sainsbury's Trading.
reply to Michael
35 Monday, 10 October 2011 12:36
Hello Michael ....
Where did you get the idea that LOTS are speaking for the whole of Ledbury?...I have never thought that we were speaking for anyone other than a very effective group called LOTS ( so called before the Sainsburys plan was public knowledge)....just as LATS /LESS are speaking for their FaceBook group who approve the superstore plans. Both groups are entitled to gather evidence and try to encourage the rest of people in Ledbury to have an opinion on this important matter, and act on it. As for funding, collecting funds has been part of the Lots campaign from the beginning. .....For example £500 was collected at the first meeting that I attended and I do feel that giving money to a cause is anyones' right as long as it is legal. As I have stated before, BOTH groups should work hard to put their points across. I do agree with you that Facebook is not the most effective platform and a website is really important.
Overstepping the mark?
34 Monday, 10 October 2011 12:05
Michael Lever
"LOTS stands for Ledbury Opposes Out of Town Superstores. "

I suggest it should be of concern both to traders and residents alike that the organisers/team of LOTS somehow think they have a mandate to speak on behalf of Ledbury.

What is the legal status of LOTS? How is it accountable for its actions? Does LOTS have a constitution? How are its representatives elected? How is it funded and by whom? What happens to any money given to LOTS? I think we should be told…
Come again?
33 Monday, 10 October 2011 11:27
Andrew Warmington
LOTS stands for Ledbury Opposes Out of Town Superstores. The name was changed though, scheming swine that we are, we kept the acronym that originally referred only to Tesco. We're against both superstores. We can't oppose Sainsbury's application before the council yet, because it hasn't been made yet. But we will.
What fools we've been...
32 Monday, 10 October 2011 11:05
Michael Lever
Had Tesco's application been the only application then obviously it would've been foolish to have done nothing if you were against it. However, now that Sainsbury's have announced an intention to enter the fray, LOTS stance I suggest is at risk of being interpreted in a way LOTS presumably did/would not have in mind when it (LOTS) embarked upon its campaign.
What fools we've been...
31 Monday, 10 October 2011 10:33
Andrew Warmington
Ah, NOW I get it. Instead of opposing Tesco's application, we should have been doing nothing at all or maybe even pretending to support it, on the basis that this would make things harder for Sainsbury's to get their application approved. So obvious when you think about it, isn't it?
LOTS to be thankful for!
30 Monday, 10 October 2011 09:34
Michael Lever
I should’ve thought that anyone in favour of Ledbury having its own out-of-town supermarket would be delighted at the lengths LOTS has gone to ensure that happening. Strenuously opposing Tesco’s application is going to make it much easier for Sainsbury’s to be successful: as I have said, the case in favour of Sainsbury’s differs from Tesco’s.

It is apparent that some members of Ledbury Town Council are lacking in their knowledge of Council Meeting procedure, not least the Mayor, but I’m not sure that really matters. Lee Smith’s comment (9 October 2011 16:00) “I just hope that Town Councilers (sic) remember that they can be replaced and that they are voted into their position to due justice to the townsfolk of Ledbury not a minority” would have some merit if the Councillors were like Members of Parliament on generous salaries, but serving on the Ledbury Town Council is a voluntary act of public- spiritedness, an often thankless task, whose only saving grace presumably is kudos. Goings-on behind-the-scenes on Ledbury Town Council are nothing new. In any event, on matters such as this, Ledbury Town Council is largely ineffectual. It has little or no clout and Herefordshire Council’s attitude towards Ledbury is not particularly supportive thanks to years of criticism by many in Ledbury of Herefordshire Council initiatives.

The potential consequences of Tesco’s application cannot fail to be divisive. Conflict of interest must surely be rife, not only in the context of whether the Ledbury Town Councillors are themselves Tesco shoppers and/or own shares in Tesco through pensions and so on, but also as regards each individual councillor’s personal, social and business relationships with townspeople including local traders directly or indirectly affected by the outcome of the application. To be a councillor one has to be thick-skinned at the best of times, but with this application I’m not sure the Town Council members have the stomach for it. I interpret the vote as a resounding “don’t know” and best leave it up to Herefordshire Council to decide so as to avoid Ledbury Town Council bearing the brunt.

As for LESS, with respect I suggest Facebook is not the best place to conduct a campaign of this nature. I do not have a Facebook account and I am sure there are many others like me that have no desire to give our personal details to a third party whose ethos we do not share merely to find out what LESS is saying about Ledbury. It doesn’t take/cost much to have a website nowadays and I suggest that if LESS want to be taken seriously and I have no reason to think they do not then it should have its own website that is open to the public.
29 Monday, 10 October 2011 09:06
Andrew Warmington
I'll keep this neutral. Whilst I disagree with some of the content of the original report, it's perfectly legitimate to write this up any way you see fit. I've done exactly the same, having also been at the meeting, and it will be on the Save Ledbury website shortly.

But as a professional journalist, I would suggest that a more appropriate headline would be something like "LOTS 'hijacked' council meeting, councillor says". That makes it clear that a subjective and indeed emotive word is being attributed to a specific person rather than being reported as fact.
"Special Meeting"
28 Sunday, 09 October 2011 16:00
Lee Smith
I read with no surprise that LOTS have influenced our Town Council. As is the case with the local media. I just hope that Town Councilers remember that they can be replaced and that they are voted into their position to due justice to the townsfolk of Ledbury not a minority. I ask this of LOTS and any Counciler that wants to answer,how many of the 3,000 signatures are residents of Ledbury and the surrounding areas?
In reply to valerie
27 Sunday, 09 October 2011 09:58
martin dudley
Firstly Valerie let me say and put it on record how pleasing it is to read communication from someone who isn't hell bent on points scoring and whose comments are both fair and well delivered.

As for both sides of the argument being heard, well yes persons like myself and Colin (and others too)should rightly have been present at council meetings to make our prtesence known and opinions heard - not always that easy forsome of us in fairness though, I'm a single parent who works in Worcester and isn't always back from work in time enough to attend.

As a group and as individuals LATS/LESS have on numerous occasions offered corrsepondence by form of hand writtenm letter and email to our local paper The Ledbury Reporter and failed to see them be published - the editor, Mr John Murphy has been challenged about this and repeatedly fails to provide evidence to back up our claims that letters have not been published and by his actions and our request he also fails to provide evidence that they have been published although.

Many of our more vocal members have left submissions and opinions and in some cases hard core facts on social networking sites that contradict LOTS claims only to either have the posts deleted by LOTS members or in some cases both posts deleted and group membership cancelled and access to be able to even read the thoughts of those who oppose denied.

Yes we could and should be more vocal as a group, it is so frustrating that with over 400 members we struggle to be heard - some of the reasons are self inflicted whilst other reasons are undoubtedly being hindered by circumstances beyond our control.

The points you made about Leadon Bank etc in an earlier response are so consistent with the debate that is ongoing here and sadly points that will no doubt resurface in years to come on similar issues.

Each to their own thoughts and whilst respecting the well conveyed thoughts of people like yourself I will continue in strongly believing that Ledbury needs a new larger store, not so that it dents the uniqueness of the high street but to offer the many in Ledbury who either choose to shop elsewhere because of cost etc or simply find nothing within that attracts them by means of everyday needs that a supermarket offers.
Final post
26 Sunday, 09 October 2011 08:22
Hello Colin
I think it really important that BOTH sides of the argument ..not just LOTS view or LATS/LESS view of this issue are put in the public domain, to the Town Council and to the Planning Committee...without any need for abusive comments.
I believe in the democratic process of decision making and government. I am grateful for The Ledbury Portal for its provision of space for public debate.
In discussion with Valerie McLean
25 Sunday, 09 October 2011 01:40
I've said all I'm going to on this subject, but would like to thank you for at least being civil and polite in our exchanges.
discussion with Colin marschall
24 Saturday, 08 October 2011 21:30
Me again Colin....I notice you have picked out one of the sentences from my last post. I was trying to respond to your suggestion that LOTS are a minority trying to force opinions on the majority - and your comments about percentages etc. I was trying to explain (not very well I realise) that..... there are two groups of people with strong opinions on these matters but the majority are in the middle and may have some ideas and opinions but those opinions are not strong enough to ensure that they act on them........When it comes down to it, for example, I do not think that the majority of people in this town would write letters, turn up to a public meeting, vote at a poll or anything else, even if one side or the other tried to 'force' them, as you implied.
martin alastair cooke
23 Saturday, 08 October 2011 21:18
You really are a very sad man, please don't bother me with your rubbish anymore as I can't be bothered to respond.
colin marschall
22 Saturday, 08 October 2011 19:04
martin alastair cooke
Did you vote at the local elections?

There is no doubt that the Council has been found wanting and that's what happens when they are not routinely held accountable.

The nonsensical notions of hijacking, of adding things to the Council's remit, the assertions of potential corruption - for which you would have to have evidence that would stand up in court, the threats are all increasingly tiresome.

You seem to be really alone in this - is there nowhere you can go for some help.
In discussion with Valerie McLean
21 Saturday, 08 October 2011 17:55
"If you have to keep on urging people to contribute and make their views known, then I do not think that the opinions are that important to them."

This I agree with you on, which is why we don't really look very hard at the LOTS letters as we know they have urged people to do as you have said.

The biggest thing that I find hard to understand is that certain members of LOTS seem to believe that we at LESS are hell bent on destroying the high street which couldn't be farther from the truth, we just don't believe that an out of town store would have that much impact .. if the traders want to look for a culprite to their dip in profit then they should look no further than the current economical climate, the huge increase in internet shopping (which a number of LOTS supporters have suggested those who cannot afford the high street should use, which is quite bemusing) and on a more local level the local councils failure to secure more parking for the people who come here - they have turned down suggestions to turn the car park next to the swimming pool into either a multistorey or underground car park. I would suggest that a number of people who sit on this council are at best ill prepared and at worst incompetent which really wories me as they are supposed to make the best decisions for ALL of Ledbury, not just a few vocal people. Very much whoever shouts the loudest will be heard policy.

As I said in another comment, LESS are not up in arms about what LOTS did we are up in arms about the way the council dealt with it .. morally and possible legally wrong.
colin marscall's add on
20 Saturday, 08 October 2011 17:41
Mr Cooke, I would question why a councillor who is after all supposed to be a representative of ALL the people would even think of suggesting a report conducted by an obvious anti group should be adopted by a supposed independant council, this would seem to go against the Herefordshires Code Of Conduct for councillors, to be exact;
Personal judgement – members may take account of the views of others, including their political groups, but should reach their own conclusions on the issues before them and act in accordance with those conclusions.

It would seem to me and others that this adopting LOTS conducted report was pre-planned as certain council members have made their feelings very clear about how they view the supermarkets applications even without knowing all the details .. I also agree with Mr Eager on how this addon could even be considered by the council without them even having had the oppertunity to read it first, this so called research should have been done by the council themselves, not by a group hell bent on stopping any out of town store regardless that they are supported by a minority of people (as LOTS figures show for themselves).

I applaud LOTS for their sneak tactics in this, my main concern is with the council folding in to a minority .. it would seem there are other factors involved in this and I can assure you that when the Sainsburys application comes up LOTS will not have it so easy.
colin marscall's add on
19 Saturday, 08 October 2011 17:17
martin alastair cooke
The add-on to which you refer is nothing of the sort. The Mayor called for a resolution from the floor and Councillor Jupp stated one, which was to include the LOTS material as evidence from the Council to the County Council. This resolution was a different one from last time. This was voted on and accepted as such by the Council. It cannot be changed as it is part of the democratic process of the Council. It is not an add-on.

If you had attended you would have been witness to this procedural event. You would also have had opportunity to make your argument for having Tesco's in Ledbury.

Unfortunately, it seeems you are trying to close the barn door after the horse has bolted.
In discussion with Colin Marcshall
18 Saturday, 08 October 2011 14:13
Hello Again Colin..I just wanted to add something about your contribution regarding percentages etc.and a possible minority of people speaking for the majority etc. I am speaking personally in this case (not as a member of a group) I really do not feel I am trying to force my views on anyone. I find that the majority of the general public do usually have a view on an issue ..such as the present one about the Superstore plans, but how many people actually are prepared to do anything about it...such as write a letter ? Or even post on a website ? If you have to keep on urging people to contribute and make their views known, then I do not think that the opinions are that important to them. I think that even if there was a town poll..... the majority of residents would not turn out as is their choice. As a back up for my suggestion, I would like to mention that when there was a similar strong discussion over the development plans for Leadon Bank, many years ago, there was a great deal of angry debate because most people in the town seem to want the height reduced and the building set back from the road. There were public meetings, exchanges in the newspapers, letters to the planning dept., division of opinion in the town council etc, and eventually an expensive town poll. But what happened......a very low turnout for the poll as often happens in local and national elections! I cannot remember the result now..but it meant that the height and position was not altered as everyone seemed to want. Sorry,.. I know that this post is a digression but I feel it has some relevance for all of us who feel so strongly and I am hoping not to post again.
Hijack - metaphorically speaking
17 Saturday, 08 October 2011 13:49
John Eager
Obviously, I didn't use the word hijack in its literal sense. This is a metaphorical usage.

One senior councilor felt the council was hijacked and he communicated this feeling to me the next day.

I didn't have this feeling during Mr Hadley's excellent speech to council. However, after the mayor proposed taking LOTS arguments as the council's own (before any council debate) this became obvious to me.

I would hazard a guess that there was some collusion between LOTS and some of the anti-Tesco councilors prior to the meeting. The council was in a fix with no supporting arguments. LOTS had prepared them already, and delivered them professionally.

If not hijack... how about a perfect coup (metaphorically speaking)
Hijack ?
16 Saturday, 08 October 2011 13:19
Helen Pull
I also attended the meeting and am a supporter of LOTS. I also think the use of the term hijack is inappropriate and provocative in this headline.

People who did not attend the meeting may not be aware that if a member of the public wants to address the councillors, the meeting is formally adjourned while they speak. When all members of public have spoken, the council meeting formally restarts. Members of the public do not get to participate in the meeting. During the meeting proper the public cannot speak, question, raise or second a motion or vote on anything.

On Thursday evening the public sat quietly and listened to the meeting proceeding. Protocol was followed and the small group of LOTS supporters left immediately after the Tesco point had been discussed.

I too was a bit surprised that some of the councillors wanted to adopt the LOTS report rather than prepare their own but I do not understand how this could be described as a hijack.
missed c
15 Saturday, 08 October 2011 12:13
martin alastair cooke

"....appeared to be 'resuing' the Council or the Mayor????" - should be rescuing the Council ....
John Eager
14 Saturday, 08 October 2011 12:10
martin alastair cooke
"Sorry, Mr Cooke, but in what way is this headline disingenuous?"

The headline is disengenious because 'hijacking' is not what happened. What happened was that LOTS were afforded an opportunity to make comment, which they did. All routine protocol for the Council. LESS and anybody else could have taken the same stand but nobody availed themselves of the opportunity. Indeed it was Councillor Jupp (I think) who suggested adopting the LOTS arguement because it was obvious the Council had no clear view of what to do and he appeared to be 'resuing' the Council or the Mayor????

LOTS obviously did their homework, as I have said. I have also recognised the frustration I sense you may have over this. Councillor Martin Eager went to great pains to explain his concerns and I actually have some sympathy with him.

It is the Council that should be the focus of the anger for their apparent complacent approach to this matter. Some appeared not to know about the issues, others appeared to not know procedures, some of the procedures seemed total daft ... as I'm sure you are aware there's a lot of politicking going on!
another reply to Colin Marschall
13 Saturday, 08 October 2011 10:35
Hello again
It was stated on Thursday that the extra meeting had to be called because Herefordshire Council had requested clarification about the reasons why the Ledbury Town Council had turned the Application from Tesco down. That is why the reasons listed by LOTS - as well as an extra reason from one of the Councillors and the independent assessment was adopted, to be presented to Herefordshire planning committee, along with the petition. The chairman congratulated Mr Hadley because of the eloquent presentation given by him.
I agree with anyone though who finds the whole business is confusing and open to misinterpretation.
But as I just replied to Claire, the decision will be made in Hereford and I personally think that the content of individual letters (not the kind that are preprinted etc.) will have an strong influence on the planners.
12 Saturday, 08 October 2011 10:28
John Eager
Sorry, Mr Cooke, but in what way is this headline disingenuous?
As I was writing this article, but before I published it yesterday, a Ledbury councilor came to see me and the first thing he said was that LOTS had hijacked the meeting. I showed him what I was writing. We had both been at the same meeting, had the same view of that meeting and were using exactly the same language. I know it is emotive language, but it describes what happens perfectly.
Reply to Martin Cooke
11 Saturday, 08 October 2011 10:22
I'm not going to get into a discusion with you on this Martin, suffice to say LESS are looking at the options we have to have this "addition" removed from the orginal recommendations, which afterall was voted on over 2 weeks ago. I, and many others, don't feel my comments are "way off the mark" as you stated and if Herefordshire Planning have any decency they will totally ignore this "add on", I truely hope they pass both Tescos and Sainsburys applications.
another reply to Claire
10 Saturday, 08 October 2011 09:46
Oh sorry if I misunderstood...I find there seems to be a quite a lot of confusion around both meetings and I think that it would helpful for members of the public if we could all have a clear explanation of exactly why the councillors did abstain....e.g. if it was from choice/ or because of protocol as with the Herefordshire Councillors. If it was from choice what exactly were the reasons? Can we at least agree on that point ?
In any case, it will be in Hereford that the decisions will be made on both planning applications, - not in Ledbury so all the letters that hopefully will have arrived from Ledbury residents expressing both our viewpoints will also give guidance to the planning committee.
Council Meeting
9 Saturday, 08 October 2011 05:32
martin alastair cooke
The headline " LOTS Hijack Council's Special Meeting written by John Eager " is disingenious. I can understand the frustration. And your comments Colin are way off the mark. All LOTS are guilty of is doing their homework. The Council, on the otherhand are appalling. LESS are justified in being angry about the Council and they could have turned up at the meeting to make their concerns known - but they didn't. Facebook is NOT a tool for direct communication with your local council.

Local politics is very frustrating. The bigger issue now though is how and in what way the notorious County Council will react to this issue given they have their own priorities which are not necessarily those of Ledbury?
LOTS Hijack of Council Special Meeting. What a disgrace this is!
8 Friday, 07 October 2011 23:13
I felt I had to comment on this subject as a member of LESS ( The Ledbury Facebook Group ABSOLUTELY in Favour of a bigger and better shopping option and reasonable choice for Ledbury & surrounding areas residents, many of whom are struggling on very limited budgets in these trying economic times) I have to say in my opinion of course, that I think this whole business seems almost farcical, after reading the above report and previous reports on the subject of a Bigger & Better Supermarket for Ledbury.
LESS (420+ members on the Facebook Group alone) have kept a dignified and non aggressive stance in this whole process, we chose not to be creative with the facts, choosing to stick to them, in the hope that they would be fairly considered.
We realise that the people who are against something and are wanting to make sure they are heard, will always be the most vocal, shouting the loudest, pushing themselves forward and of course we understand this line of action taken, even though it could be seen as a little intimidating, maybe a tad bullish in its approach but I think what Ledbury people will object to the most and find hardest to believe or understand, is that the town/county councillors who are there surely to represent them & act in an unbiased way whilst doing so, for the good of Ledbury and HR8 residents and surely they are not there to just take the opinions of this one small group, who represent a very small percentage of Ledbury numbers in fact & who are totally opposed it seems, to anything remotely innovative in order to drag Ledbury to a point where the needs and wants of this Town and its residents are met, surely these very councillors should make up their own minds and present their reasons for this decision, not let their minds be swayed by a totally biased group, this is the least that Ledbury deserves isn't it?
Ledbury and the surrounding areas residents just want to see a fair and unbiased debate on this subject, surely this will not be denied them, it is imperative that it is done in the correct manner also, in order to show that it has been dealt with in a fair & honest way, Ledbury deserves this surely doesn't it?
I hope that Ledbury doesn't feel to let down by all this but I have a feeling they might!
Hello Valerie
7 Friday, 07 October 2011 22:22
Claire Ellis
Without causing offence, my original post was in response to the report written by John Eager.
As far as I understand, councillors abstained from voting at an earlier meeting and then at this meeting, just accepted 'proposals' from Lots without actually doing the work themselves. This is no way to run a council and that is what is causing the problem.
I do not particularly care whether the plans are passed or not at this stage, as no doubt, if this one fails, Sainsbury's will succeed.
Reply to Mrs McLean
6 Friday, 07 October 2011 20:32
Yes we know we could have attended, but as LOTS said for the meeting 2 weeks ago we did not want to be seen in trying to pressure the council. What the outrage is about is the report being added to the objections AFTER the orginal vote had been taken (and the mayor congratualaing Mr Hadley on his presentation), to be honest 7 out of 18 councillors is hardly a majority to "adopt" the arguments is it? Also I'm glad to have found out that the petition names will be looked over before being accepted, so we shall see how many are actually from the HR8 district.

As I said 36% of the Ledbury population or 24% of the HR8 district if you prefer is NOT the majority that LOTS keep telling us they represent, it is a minority trying to force the majority.

It doesn't matter how you paint it, this council decision is totally disgracefull and I applaud Mr Eager for his comment.
Council Claire Ellis
5 Friday, 07 October 2011 20:17
Hello Claire,
As I stated earlier, the council had the reasons for rejecting the plans read out to them....and the members of the council have had reasons for objecting or approving given to them in so many letters and conversations etc.over the past weeks ( from your view point as well I hope) Surely they should be aware of all the issues and possibilities by now.There were various reasons why some Councillors abstained but, the majority of the Councillors agreed with the reasons put forward by LOTS. I know because I was there.
Are these actions legal?
4 Friday, 07 October 2011 20:15
martin dudley
Absolutely disgraceful actions by LOTS and even more disgraceful actions by the town council, how can they add this interjection by LOTS as an afterthought without even having anytime to consider.

Of the 18 councillors present 7 voted to allow the actions - 5 of those 7 voted against the planning application a fortnight ago and the other 2 votes were from councillors who abstained at the original meeting...................Of the remaining 11 councillors present 10 abstained and 1 refused to vote.

The actions of a poor council and led by an even poorer mayor - remember this is the mayor who from Mr Eagers report had to ask for guidance and advice on procedure, more shambolic actions from the people who are supposed to be representing the local electorate.

Of the 3,578 names added to a petition, well just how many were local? We may never know but as with all petitions it has to be scrutinised and even if all were genuine it reprseents a minority in opposition as I have been told by a Ledbury town councillor that the local population within stands at some 13,000, according to LOTS that would represent some 27% of that same local population.

Final 2 questions - Just why are county councillors being allowed to sit and vote on the town council and why did one particular councillor openly admit a fortnight ago to a fellow councillor that she was in favour of a new store and then abstain from the vote?

Shambles and appalling!!!
Council's special Meeting
3 Friday, 07 October 2011 19:57
Hello Colin Marschall
I know what happened at the Council Meeting last night because I was there, along with other members of the public (not all from Lots) ...because I am interested in the outcome of this planning application. You could have attended if you had wished.
There was an invitation to members of the public to speak and as reported, Mr Hadley gave in a very calm manner - within a few minutes, a very concise list of reasons why LOTS is objecting to the Tesco Superstore backed up by impartial evidence. That was the only input from LOTS. In my opinion, the only sense of a 'hijack' came from the contrast of Mr Hadleys' calm words with the remainder of the meeting which could not be described as 'calm', so Mr Hadleys' contribution was very effective and memorable. A member of the Council proposed that the arguments put forward by LOTS should be adopted. This was seconded and voted on by the rest of the Council. Surely a petition of 3,578 names is an excellent result. Well done everyone who helped to collect those signatures.
Council 'Special Meeting'?
2 Friday, 07 October 2011 19:51
Claire Ellis
Our majority of town councillors seem to be slightly confused it seems.
In the council code of conduct, it clearly states
'Personal judgement – members may take account of the views of others, including their political groups, but should reach their own conclusions on the issues before them and act in accordance with those conclusions.'
Surely this means that they should do the research for themselves, not listen to the biased surveys commisioned by a few individuals.
Special thanks to Martin Eager - he does have a backbone and correctly described it as a 'Shambolic Farce'.
LOTS Hijack Council's Special Meeting
1 Friday, 07 October 2011 18:15
Absolutly disgracefull

This just goes to show that the LOTS campaign will go to any length in order to force the majority to accept their minority actions. A petition that carries 3,578 names is only 36% of the 9,900 population (as in Herefordshires population figures 2009) and I suspect if those names were checked a large part of them are not even residents of Herefordshire let alone Ledbury. The council need to be called to task about this and you can guarentee that LESS will be asking questions.