|Say goodbye to 'artists impressions' and goodbye to Tesco Coalville|
I know that many local residents never wanted Tesco in the first place. The vast majority of people with whom I speak tell me very clearly that they preferred the rival ASDA planning application.
But the fact is that in granting Tesco planning permission the district council were saying 'yes' to a number of significant benefits.
Tesco promised Coalville not only their store but also a range of secondary units which would have been attractive to other larger national multiple retailers. Let's not forget that Tesco also offered the prospect of new, town centre homes - something I believe would have been a great benefit to Coalville.
Now all of those promises have gone and all we are left with is a semi-derelict bank of land on Hotel Street which I have no doubt that without immediate intervention by the authority will be allowed by Tesco to deteriorate even further.
North West Leicestershire District Council must work with Tesco to ensure their Hotel Street properties are developed and brought back into use as a matter of urgency. And if working with Tesco's doesn't work we should not be afraid to take enforcement action to make it so.
Regeneration of Coalville is my top priority and our district council has lessons to be learned out of this mess.
First and foremost, I believe, in our search for an anchor store in town we granted Tesco (and let us not forget the precinct owners, Threadneedle) planning permission and then left them alone to get on with it. That was a mistake.
Granting planning permission should only have been a first step with Tesco (and Threadneedle) as a district council we should have skills in place to nurse those developers through to completion of their builds. To help overcome obstacles and to remind them that there are real benefits in coming to Coalville.
Our Council must make economic regeneration more of a priority. We must get into place those skills necessary to assist developers in seeing major projects through to completion.
It's not just about saying there are real benefits however, it's also about proving it. Our Council must work more with local retailers and shoppers to plan what Coalville needs for the future.
We must address our leisure and night time economy to get people coming in to town and not least we must make it attractive for local (and not so local) people to want to spend time here.
As we have seen the Tesco fiasco unravel we have come to realise that the Tories cannot be trusted to prioritise regeneration of Coalville high enough up the agenda.
Labour will work with the current administration in seeking regeneration but where they are not going far enough we will pressure them and go out searching for investment in our town.
I fear however that left to Tory devices we will still be floundering and in an even worse position.