I was surprised to read in the newspaper that Mike Hockin Chairman of Dawlish Chamber of Trade blaming Teignbridge District Council, because Tesco has won a High Court battle to stop rival Sainsbury's plans to build a new store in Dawlish.
The fact is Dawlish’s Conservative district councillors pushed for the Sainsbury’s application to be approved without delay, despite warnings that the council would almost certainly face a legal challenge. Dawlish councillors were under extreme public pressure, one Dawlish councillor said it would be ‘political suicide’ for any Dawlish councillor not to support Sainsbury’s; however they could have supported my amendment without compromising their position, they chose not to. Read the minutes of the 23rd June 2008 here: http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=15193&p=0 and the notes here: http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=16696&p=0. and the minutes of 10th November here: http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=16889&p=0
The amendment I proposed, seconded by Alan Connett, was for deferral. This would have delayed but not necessarily refused Sainsbury’s planning application, allowing for both applications to be consider together; and avoided giving Tesco the opportunity to mount a legal challenge, as well as negotiate a better contribution for Dawlish town centre from Sainsbury than the derisory £200,000 offered –Dartmouth got £383,700 from Sainsbury.
Regrettably my amendment was lost 9 votes to 13 votes. Had the committee accepted my amendment, Teignbridge council taxpayers wouldn’t have to find an estimated £40,000 in legal bills. However the ultimate irony of this sorry tale is that Dawlish may end up with Tesco after all. Tesco has been refused planning permission, mainly because Sainsbury had permission, now the court has taken Sainsbury’s planning permission away; Tesco has a pretty strong case to take to the planning inspector.