The Walsall Advertiser letters page has been improving a tad of late. More often than not it’s just the soapbox for tedious blowhards like Ian Payne. Just lately there has been some excellent correspondence on the subject of Brownhills Tesco development and the dismay caused in the community by the plans to demolish the Senior Citizen’s Centre in order to provide a small overflow car park for the new Tesco hypermarket.
Thankfully, the plight of the pensioners hasn’t passed the media by and there has been excellent publicity in most of the local media. It’s nothing short of a scandal that the likes of Councillor Adrian Andrew should imagine that destroying valuable community facilities in order to provide car parking is in any way acceptable, particularly so when it seems to be little more than a pathetic attempt to save face over the crash of Brownhills Market, clearly euthanised for Tesco, who oddly seem to have more influence over our municipal governors than the people who elected them. Lets make no mistake here, what the retail giant wants it will get, without anyone at the council daring to demand they give anything back to the town.
The letter from community activist and top chap Brian Stringer sums up the relationship that Tesco seem to have with their host community.
I AGREE with Mrs Mead who writes of her concerns for the Brownhills Senior Citizens Centre in Pier Street “Our club is more than a building,” (Advertiser, June 24).
She has every right to be concerned, if their fate lies in the hands of Tesco. Since their arrival in Brownhills, have shown little interest in the community while Asda build Cannock a park as a goodwill gesture, Tesco, I fear, will ride roughshod over anything that gets in their way and sadly this includes Walsall Council.
The true colours of Tesco were revealed to me with the revelation that a recently held festival, when local traders were asked to chip in, Tesco donated a £10 voucher.
This sums up the concern of Tesco for Brownhills.
Keep battling Mrs Mead and I hope this letter will strengthen your cause. I heard somewhere, every little helps.
Brian Stringer, Brownhills.
Brian is replying to this excellent letter, published the previous week, from Mrs. R Mead of Walsall, who made an impassioned defence of this vital and well-loved facility.
I WOULD like to make some points regarding Brownhills Senior Citizens’ Club.
Tesco wants to bulldoze us to make way for a new car park for their superstore.
It does not to give us a building like we have had for more than 20 years; it wants to put us in a room somewhere.
We are only a building to Tesco and Walsall Council, but we are more.
This is a meeting place for our members to have a chat with their friends over a cup of tea and biscuits, play bingo, raffles etc.
We have a full working kitchen which has served the public since being built.
We have a busy club. We have social evenings – fish-and-chip suppers, skittles, bingo and buffet nights – with a room we would not be able to do this.
We can open and close our building, use it as often as we can, but a room would not suit us and that’s all that’s on offer.
I would ask the council to check our ground out, because I feel it would make the ideal market space.
We have a huge car park which used to hold about 30 vans when the market was in full swing.
Tesco is going to give the council some land for this we hear.
We could work with the markets and keep open ourselves.
A lot of money has been spent on our building since October 2009 – new windows, The Prince’s Trust redecorated inside and the Pay Back team cleared bushes and pruned trees, planted 1,000 bulbs.
Many people gave their free time. Businesses loaned equipment for free, so how can they justify knocking us down for a car park?
We are not going without a fight. Why should Tesco be allowed to just decide it wants somewhere without a thought for people or livelihoods? People have to give up their shops as they want us to do. The police hold a surgery once a month as well. We are in the news, but Tesco and the council are unavailable to comment.
Mrs R Mead, Walsall.
I notice that Walsall Council and Tesco have been using language in their publicity material that suggests we should welcome the opportunity to shop at this huge new facility, and that we deserve a better store. I’m growning increasingly irritated by this patronising, facetious tone; Tesco are a big company. They aren’t giving us anything at all, except the opportunity to increase their profits. This is about cold, hard cash, not community. Like any retail operation, what the company wants is to extract as much money as it can, whilst returning as little as possible to maximise profit.
I noted on Facebook the other day that people still seem to believe there’s some secret plan from ‘trusted sources’ for the development, that suggests the Brownhills store will front onto the High Street and do all this magical stuff for the town centre. I think they’re going to be a little disappointed, unless our burghers actually grow some balls and demand that Tesco give something to Brownhills in return for our permission to operate here.
Unfortunately for us, Tesco seem to be wearing the trousers and Walsall Council appear supine before them.