One of the great pleasures of grassroots campaigning is meeting new people. On Wednesday, after some radio interviews promoting our "Justice for Brid" protest on Saturday, I drove to Bridlington to meet local traders who are being directly affected by council blunders.
In a recent post I highlighted the social cost of the failed regeneration scheme. After spending an afternoon with supporters, visiting numerous shops, the message came though loud and clear that local people are sick and tired of not being listened to by an arrogant council that thinks it knows better.
One local businessman told me he was thinking about closing his business and relocating to York where the council treat you better. He mentioned that since the council ended free parking in a nearby car park, his trade has suffered. He fears the latest council bungling will force him out of the town after many years trading there.
Someone else, who wishes to remain nameless, used to live in Springfield Avenue. They sold their house to the council five years ago, and told the council they would happily rent it from them until they found somewhere permanent. The council refused to let them do that. Instead, they boarded-up the house and have left it like that for five years. This is not an isolated case. Others have told me similar stories.
Many businesses we visited offered to take more leaflets from us and display them in the shop windows and distribute to their customers. Looking around the area near the Tesco site, there are many empty business premises. Areas that once had footfall are now no longer thriving as the council has left the area blighted and derelict.
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In an interview on BBC Radio Humberside, John Lister, Head of Bridlington Renaissance (I know, the irony is not lost on me) tried to pretend all was well; that Tesco's decision was not as bad as it is. As you can hear, in my response to him, I set the record straight. Former councillor, Geoff Pickering, expanded on my points too, and all of this was too much was Mr Lister. Immediately after his interview, Mr Pickering received this e-mail from Mr Lister:
I presume you are aware that there is a wedding at 1.00 on Saturday in the Town Hall. You are, of course, free to organise a protest but it is necessary to destroy an innocent couple's big day.
This blatant attempt to bully us was passed to the Yorkshire Post who reported the story yesterday. We checked with the senior registrar who informed us that although there is a wedding taking place at the Town Hall on Saturday, if we leave the area at 1.15pm, we will not get in the way when guests start arriving. We are, of course, more happy to do this, despite what Mr Lister thinks.
If you are in the Bridlington area on Saturday, please come along and support us.
What: "Justice for Brid" protest
When: Saturday 4th May, 12.30pm
Where: Town Hall Gardens, Bridlington. YO16 4LP