Churches Claim Tesco Plan Is Betrayal Of BedminsterOctober 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.
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