If the issue was jobs and eyesores, this application wasn’t the right answer

I AM extremely pleased that the application for a Sainsbury’s store was refused.

The vote by Todmorden Town Council was unanimous in its objection and the vote from the planning committee was also unanimous in its refusal to grant planning. Each person casting those votes was elected to do so and it’s a great day for local democracy when our elected leaders act on behalf of the people rather than the huge corporate bullies who would do anything to have it otherwise.

I wish I could say the same for the unelected Calderdale Planning Department who seemed to make a sharp U-turn a week prior to the decision.

For those who were in favour of a Sainsbury’s and believe you are part of a group that represents 80 per cent of the town, you are absolutely wrong. Please write to Local Dialogue and ask them to explain how they arrived at that figure and you will learn that it was derived from a loaded question to less than 500 people.

With 500 letters of objection to the planning department added to a petition of over 3,000, the figures on the side of the objectors are plain for all to see. This supermarket was only wanted by a minority and that has now been proven to be a fact.

For those who were in favour of a Sainsbury’s on the grounds that it would have created more jobs, it wouldn’t.

When questioned at committee it became clear that their plan was to take business away from Asda, Morrisons and the market and so the creation of 150 jobs would definitely have been at the expense of jobs elsewhere in the town.

For those who were in favour because the Hope Street site is an eyesore, Asda were also present at the committee and may very well have walked away from their own eyesore site rather than develop it and risk a supermarket war with Sainsbury’s.

So in short, if the issue is about jobs and eyesores, Sainsbury’s are not and never have been the answer.

In addition to this, Sainsbury’s ignored Calderdales UDP regarding tourism and canals and seemed to be intent on developing the opposite to the planning brief for the site itself. Why the planners backed this scheme in the first place, one can only guess.

Throughout this whole episode, Sainsbury’s have disregarded everything about this town, our prosperity and our future. So let’s look to the future and let’s try to be a little more imaginative with our aspirations than another supermarket. Did we really want to see a supermarket war with our town centre as the battleground?

What would have been left? What damage would it have done to existing businesses and the proposed redevelopment of Bramsche Square?

For those who think that the opposition to Sainsbury’s comes from either a “small minded bunch who don’t want change” or “a bunch of outer towners who’ve lived here five minutes” again, you are absolutely wrong. I’ve live here virtually all my life and I know that I’m not alone in having a vision of a better future for Todmorden.

I want to see the town to change for the better. I want to see development that will entice people to come here and not just to fill their shopping trolleys. This town has so much going for it and this should be capitalised upon and not stifled.

We have the scenery, the history and unrivalled transport links. If we can’t capitalise on these assets and look to a more interesting and prosperous future then perhaps we are all small-minded after all.

Saul Caldwell, Todmorden.