Hundreds join Tesco protest meeting in Welwyn Garden City

A CALL to arms by campaigners fighting the proposed Tesco development in WGC was answered by hundreds of residents.

Some 300 people packed out the Terrace Suite at Campus West last Wednesday evening, with many having to stand for the duration of the two-hour meeting, as the venue had run out of chairs.

The meeting had been convened by the WGC Society, which is vehemently opposed to Tesco’s plans for a supermarket and associated development on the former Shredded Wheat site in Broadwater Road.

Dr Dennis Lewis, former Welwyn Hatfield councillor and chairman for the meeting, said it was “one of the most serious issues” the Garden City had faced in its 90-year history.

Urging residents to actively get involved and persuade the borough council to reject Tesco’s plans, he said: “This is YOUR meeting.

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“The WGC Society has convened it but it is you, every one of you who has taken the trouble to come, who own this meeting.

“We want you to work with us to see off this threat to our beautiful town.”

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Society chairman Shaun O’Reilly explained the plans in further detail, and spelled out what the society believed were the implications if those plans came to fruition.

He called on residents to download the report compiled by consultants Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners on behalf of Welwyn Hatfield Council, and urged people to comment.

Most of the comments made in the report fully supported the society’s position and, as a result, Mr O’Reilly said, it had given them great assurance they were on the right track.

Mr O’Reilly also stressed to the audience that, despite what was being claimed, the report did not support the Tesco assertion that a new store on Broadwater Road would support the town centre.

He pointed out this was central to Tesco’s argument.

Mr O’Reilly’s presentation initiated a very animated discussion, with members of the audience clearly very worried about the probable closure of local shops, including supermarket rival Morrisons, on which many residents of the Panshanger area depend.

In drawing the meeting to a close, Dr Lewis said that in no way did he or his colleagues in the WGC Society accept that Tesco would win.

He pointed out that if neighbouring St Albans could see off a Tesco development, then WGC could too – especially if all present at the meeting got involved in opposing the application.

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