Supermarket or swimming pool?
IT COULD only happen in Brixham. Two important meetings, concerning the town's past and its future, and what happens — both were scheduled for the evening of January 17.
The town council's meeting at the community college, to debate 'Tesco or no Tesco' started at 6.30pm and just half-an-hour later, at the rugby club, Friends of Shoalstone gathered to further their cause to keep Shoalstone pool open.
The question… supermarket or swimming pool debate?
The ol' sailor chose the supermarket meeting.
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Normally about 20 to 30 members of the public attend but such was the concern, this time approximately 200 residents gathered in the main hall, geared up and ready to express their feelings.
The attending public were given first call and although several spoke in favour of the development, it soon became pretty clear that the majority were against the town centre being swallowed up by the supermarket company.
BM21's John Coysh outlined the regeneration aspect, plus the bonus of 160 jobs promised by the developers.
Another lady, whose name I missed, explained that she was a carer and welcomed the opportunity of shopping in town.
Farmer Richard Haddock, from the Churston Farm Shop, expressed concern that Tesco should be governed by the same strict 106 regulations that applied to his business.
Mr Haddock spoke clearly, passionately and certainly made a lot of sense.
We were advised that Brixham's Chamber of Trade favoured the development but another speaker reported that, conducting a survey of the various shops, he'd discovered that most businesses feared the supermarket competition.
Although Mark Scoot, representing the developers, gave a clear professional assessment of Albourne Properties' plans, including the employment opportunities, the emotional tension building within the public section increased.
Many people had come expecting strong leadership from the town council but members seemed undecided on what was best for the community.
Tempers were lost, voices raised and some argued with chairman Brian Harland over points of procedure.
Such was the passion and discontent that I understand one councillor even resigned!
Being on Torbay's planning committee, Cllr Mike Morey sat out the meeting while Cllr Jackie Stockman, sitting on Torbay's DMC, debated the issue but abstained from voting.
Surely councillors should be able to handle being members of both councils without abstaining from debates on important items that affect the lives of people who voted them into office?
When it came to the actual vote, things got more confused.
However, it seems Cllr Martin Hodge recommended that because of unsolved traffic problems, the town council should request Torbay Council to ask the developers to 'think again'.
Further heated disagreements among Brixham councillors caused more passionate responses from the public and many folk, perhaps in frustration, headed for the door.
I came out into the dark, cold night wondering what, if anything, had been achieved and driving home felt that my lady had let me down slightly by not hiding my trousers, so keeping me from attending council meetings.
For sure I could have done without this one!
I'M not sure why but for the past few months I've had the same recurring dream about being back at work… piloting ships into Torbay.
Some nights, fast asleep, I've guided at least three vessels to a safe anchorage off Paignton.
Some mornings when the alarm went, I've woken up completely drained.
Perhaps I should consult a therapist.
It got so bad that one morning last week, just after 7.30am, the phone rang and scrambling awake from confused slumber, I answered by asking the ship's name, draft and ETA.
It was a great relief to be told by some 'foreign' lady that she could represent me to recover thousands of pounds compensation from my bank for something I'd been sold called PPI.
FINGERS crossed, we've escaped the worst of the winter weather.
Snow looks beautiful on the TV but it can cause tremendous problems to the average man in the street.
We experienced a small sample of the problems the other morning.
Our moggie, Shannon, makes a bee-line for the kitchen door before breakfast and as my lady opened the kitchen door, Shannon dashed out, took one look at the slight showers of snow flakes and turned smartly about.
Her look said… I might be a Norwegian Forest Cat but that's not for me. Where's me breakfast?