Churches Claim Tesco Plan Is Betrayal Of Bedminster

October 23, 2009

Church leaders in Bedminster claim Bristol City FC is betraying its community and its “only real interest is money” in selling Ashton Gate to Tesco.

They claim the plan could lead to economic and community decline in the area.

Bedminster Parochial Church Council, which is the representative body of the Church of England in the area, has written to the city council to formally object to the plan.

In a strongly worded letter, it says “the reputed £20m which Tesco is offering for the site could be seen as equating to 30 pieces of silver”. In the Bible, Judas Iscariot was paid thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus to the Romans.

Ashton Gate Stadium Plan

Ashton Gate Stadium Plan

As well as the impact on the community, the church leaders object to the proposal on the grounds that the area already has enough shops, and that the plan would create more traffic noise and pollution.

They also claim it is “irresponsible” of the club to link the plan for a Tesco to its ambitions for a new stadium.

The letter says: “It would be a very serious business if Bedminster suffered an economic and community decline, because it was put forward that the superstore at Ashton Gate is the only way in which a new stadium could be built.

“While we bear no ill will to Bristol City Football Club, and indeed many members of our parish are Bristol City supporters, we believe that the club is not displaying a proper sense of responsibility to the community which has hosted it for many years.

“We ask that the Council will not grant permission for a superstore to be built at Ashton Gate.”

Bristol City FC claims it cannot fund its proposed new stadium at Ashton Vale without selling Ashton Gate to Tesco. It also denies the plan would harm local shops and says it would instead bring hundreds of new jobs to the area.

The club has recently stepped up its campaign for the council to allow the development, and now displays posters and banners inside and outside Ashton Gate that say “No Food Store = No New Stadium”.

Bristol City FC’s Chief Executive Colin Sexstone recently told Jones The News: “We are building a stadium for Bristol City and the region.

“The only asset that we have is Ashton Gate. It would appear that there is no public money for this, so it must be funded by commerciality.

“The difference between using this for food retail and using it as a mixed use site is as much as a net £15m. If someone else can suggest how we can make up that difference, we’re all ears. But no-one has been forthcoming as yet.”

Bristol City Council will consider the planning application for the Tesco on November 5th.

Audio: Martin Jones interviews Alan Baker from Bedminster Parochial Church Council



  1. I’ll be forthcoming with a suggestion!

    Steve Lansdown’s stake in Hargreaves Lansdown has increased in value by £80m since the Tesco plans were submitted in August. The total value of his shares is over £318m.

    I’m sure he’d manage to spare an extra £15m if the Tesco plans were rejected!

  2. Dear One Story Jones,

    Do you report on anything else? Your last 6 stories are all about the club’s stadium plans. Spooky.

    Are you still insisting that you can’t tell people how you feel about this project because you’re impartial?

    Just wondering. like.

    Best wishes

    • Hello Sarah, lovely to hear from you as ever. If only I had the luxury of reporting on just one story! Sadly, no such luck. I report on about six or seven stories a day, but because of the way news works, I could not realistically call most of them ‘substantially my own work’, which is the point of this blog. I mean – crime stories, court reports, political stories, funnies and everything in between. I write about half of the stories on the news pages of Original and Star radio, so they’re there for all to see. I also appear on the air on both stations throughout the day.

      The Tesco/Stadium story is by far the biggest story in Bristol at the moment, and journalists do have a tendency to prefer important stories to unimportant ones. Also, I think there is a perception among some of my contacts that they cannot go to the Evening Post and get a completely fair hearing. So many of them seem to come to me first. And no professional journalist ignores a scoop that lands on his desk (as this one did).

      • One Story,

        I wouldn’t expect you to ignore something that drops on your desk but an awful lot has happened in Bristol over the recent months too.

        I know you’re a season ticket holder at the club but also 99% certain you’re against the Tesco proposals, so I guess you do see this story as rather big. But also remember that 99% of Bristol don’t give a crap. I believe the Tesno petitions are around 2,500 in a city of about 500,000.

        All good “banter” as people say – but don’t forget to get out Jones, there’s a lovely world out here to get excited about. I know you Journo’s do long hours so don’t lose your life to this one 🙂

        Best wishes

      • 99% of Bristol “don’t give a crap”? I beg to differ.

        I am also well aware of the number of stories going on in the city. There are only a handful of people in the city who have reported on as many of them as I have.

        Oh, and thanks for the advice, but I’ll make my own mind up about what stories I spend my time on.

  3. @ Sarah

    You have to admit it is currently the biggest story in the city, and is about to reach a crucial point.

    Oh, and I just scanned the comments on the last few pro-stadium EP articles, and didn’t see any comments from you, yet the local blogs (particularly on BERATE) seem full of coments from you. Do you only feel compelled to comment if an article isn’t uncritically supportive?

    I wonder why?



  4. Ben,

    The post has run hundreds of letters on Tesco – most of them against the plans.

    They have run stories about the WI, the march, the meeting, the petition – what else do you want from them?

    The reason I have not got involved with those letters is that I don’t like the Post’s letters/comments bit – it’s just a free for all of stupid comments from people who I have little time for (on both sides).

    I actually enjoy a bit of “proper” debate with people on the other blogs.

    Hope that goes some way to clearing that up.

  5. One Story,

    I was only joking about the “wide world” – sorry if that was lost. I meant it in the nicest possible way.

    99% “don’t give a crap”. Well, maybe 15,000 Bristol fans do but the Tesno signatures are 2,500 or so apparently in total. The delightful Wikipedia says Bristol’s Urban Area is 551,000. So apparently only 0.45% of Bristol’s Urban Area care enough to sign a petition, about 0.02% care enough to demonstrate and living round here while there are a few posters around when you actually count the numbers in houses close to the Football Club it’s actually a tiny minority who have a poster.

    So I’m just a little surprised that given 0.45 and 0.02% figures you’re reporting 6 of your last 6 stories on it – that’s all.

    Seriously though, all said good humour. Do have a nice Friday and weekend etc.


    • I think we can assume more people are interested in a story than will sign a petition about it. By a factor of thousands.

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