Funding for a new leisure centre for the …

Comment posted Helensburgh retailers full of positivity – for town centre Waitrose by James Robb.

Funding for a new leisure centre for the pier head and sea defences for the site were supported by all Helensburgh councillors and approved in the Council budget. This removed the previous nonsense of “no funding available for a decade”. This is a welcome change of heart from those in power. It also leads to the next stage for the pier head site now that the pressure to sell the site to “fund” the leisure facility has been removed. The town can now take a more reasonable amount of time to decide what it really wants on that site – leisure and recreation are promised plus retail? and/or residential? as shown in the extant masterplan. If Waitrose is approved mitigation coud be directed to this town centre site for further improvements. If Waitrose isn’t approved Council funding should be re-directed to ensure sympathetic improvements. This does not preclude any developer from putting in an application for a retail development.

Recent comments by James Robb

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53 Responses to Funding for a new leisure centre for the …

  1. The Hoskins proposal is for 2 buildings, one the leisure centre facing the water and the other facing Clyde Street for retail.
    So it appears that the only change that he needs to make is add a Waitrose sign on the retail unit.
    You are being a little disingenuous in saying there is a minority with a loud voice pulling the development to the wrong place. As a community councillor I was helping at their desk getting people to fill in an exit survey from teh consultation event. The survey result of 70% opposed to a big box supermarket on the pier head site was no surprise after hearing the comments of the public. The majority who you suggest favoured the pier head site voted with their feet and conspicuously failed to attend.
    It is unfortunate that the planning for this prime site appears to being rushed and I certainly agree that it would be beneficial if the exciting proposal by Gareth Hoskins could be given a fair hearing before irrevocable decisions are made.

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    • It doesn’t have to be a big box supermarket. Anyone who has visited many of Booth’s supermarkets in north west England will know that it is possible for a supermarket to sell quality goods in a building that can look attractive as well. They stock Fyne Ales too so that’s another thing in their favour!

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      • Waitrose doesn’t build really big boxes, and Hoskins doesn’t design ugly boxes, so unless you think that new buildings have to look like old buildings then there’s no need to assume that the Hoskins proposal would be ugly.

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    • The straightforwardness of simply putting a Waitrose sign on the Hoskins’ pier head element is very seductive.

      You’re so right about the need for the majority to get moving and get their voices heard. This is always an issue. You cannot get what you don’t insist upon.

      And the independent minded members of the ‘No to retail on the pier head’ lobby at least can see now that it need not be a big box job.

      There are two core matters:

      Waitrose on the pier head – and the council are to spend money on flood defences for the site – is a sure fire winner for the town centre.

      The Gareth Hoskins design already excites Helensburgh – and for people to get excited about the place they live in and do business in is the best fuel in the tank of shared ownership of regeneration anyone can hope for.

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  2. Funding for a new leisure centre for the pier head and sea defences for the site were supported by all Helensburgh councillors and approved in the Council budget. This removed the previous nonsense of “no funding available for a decade”. This is a welcome change of heart from those in power. It also leads to the next stage for the pier head site now that the pressure to sell the site to “fund” the leisure facility has been removed. The town can now take a more reasonable amount of time to decide what it really wants on that site – leisure and recreation are promised plus retail? and/or residential? as shown in the extant masterplan. If Waitrose is approved mitigation coud be directed to this town centre site for further improvements. If Waitrose isn’t approved Council funding should be re-directed to ensure sympathetic improvements. This does not preclude any developer from putting in an application for a retail development.

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    • A development on the pier head site of the sort envisaged in the Gareth Hoskins concept – with ANY attractive food retailer occupying that element of this ‘plan’ would be a positive driver of regeneration in Helensburgh town centre.

      If Waitrose cannot or will not be located where it will actually lift the town’s economic performance, it will actually cripple that performance.

      In our view, there is no mitigation that would respond to the negative that an out of town Waitrose would bring to the Helensburgh economy.

      Waitrose on the pier head would be an enduring and powerful magnet.

      But if that is not to be done, the next best option for Helensburgh is:
      no Waitrose at all,
      a spectacular pier head project with a single concept,
      a attractive retailer,
      a stunning leisure centre/pool
      and no messing around with any unnecessary residential element – an illiterate notion in this context.

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  3. Actually, For Argyll, you are completely wrong on this issue — the majority of Helensburgh people want Waitrose at Colgrain. That has been very clear for weeks.

    And why shouldn’t the heavily populated east end of the town have its own supermarket?

    By the way, the Retailers Association campaign this week against Waitrose at Colgrain has backfired badly, as some of them now realise.

    Town centre shoppers, most of whom would remain town centre shoppers apart from occasional visits to Waitrose, have been harangued and in some cases frightened by the shopkeepers campaign, and some I know are proposing to avoid those shops in future whatever the outcome.

    Mr Hoskins may be a very eminent architect, but his fancy drawings of space age structures are completely irrelevant. Let’s have Waitrose at Colgrain and get on with planning attainable improvements to the town centre which will retain its character but improve what it has to offer.

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    • PBP: “the majority of Helensburgh people want Waitrose at Colgrain. That has been very clear for weeks.”

      I was wondering where the evidence for this statement comes from? Has there been a survey of what Helensburgh residents want on this score?

      I confess to being neutral on this whole issue as I do not know Helensburgh well enough to comment but I am always intrigued when people claim to know what other people want. So I am just looking to ascertain if this statement is merely an opinion or is backed by something more substantial.

      “harangued and frightened” I have a mental image of shopkeepers waving sundry goods in a threatening manner at passers by!

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      • Yes, two surveys, one by Sainsbury, one by Helensburgh Community Council. A large majority for Waitrose at Colgrain in both cases.

        “I will not be lectured to by that man. It was upsetting and alarming” was the response of one shopper angered by the way she was canvassed by a shopkeeper.

        “I have never been so angry in my life. I am seriously considering never going back to that shop” was the response of another committed town centre shopper.

        These were serious responses, Dr McKenzie. Shoppers who were long-standing customers were in many cases upset and in other cases deeply upset. Someone else pointed out that, of the retailers protesting, several occupied shops all owned by the same person.

        Can I congratulate you on being neutral as you do not know Helensurgh well enough, an admirable stance which others in the same position would do well to adopt.

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        • Thanks for that PBP. I had a quick look on the the Community COuncil website. I notice in the summary it says (in relation to their survey):

          ‘The headlines figures show 40% (487) want a supermarket on the pier head and 50% (609) do not, the remaining 10% (120) being uncertain’

          So whilst a majority for it is far from overwhelming and suggests the opinion is not as clear as you have suggested.

          Looking at the questions in the survey I noticed Q5 If a supermarket was built on the pier head would you use local shops more, less, the same?

          Was a similar question asked about whether local shops would be used more, less, the same if a supermarket was built in COlgrain? I couldn’t see that question and would have thought that was also a very important opinion to survey as it gets to the heart of the retailers concerns.

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        • Also does anyone have a link to the Sainsbury survey results as I am concerned by this article in the Advertiser

          http://www.helensburghadvertiser.co.uk/news/roundup/articles/2011/12/01/420546-sainsburys-reveal-survey-results

          which suggests 60% of those surveyed supported plans for a Pierhead supermarket.

          Very much conscious of the ability foe newspaper headlines to not accurately portray a survey which is why I would be interested in seeing the actual survey, including the questions asked.

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          • From the Community Council website: “Clearly the public have given their opinion in what is a most valuable consultation. It will enable the Community Council to:-

            Respond to any planning application for a supermarket on the Pierhead site with authority.
            Take part in the consultation over the projected use of the Pierhead site, again with authority.
            Support the South Colgrain site application in preference to the prime site on the sequential planning test, based on public opinion clearly demonstrated.”

            Clearly demonstrated will do me. I suspect that will be reflected at Tuesday’s meeting. Development in the heavily populated east end of the town does not improvement in the west end.

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  4. I must say I personally saw no evidence of people being harangued or frightened so it would be interesting to hear what PBP is referring to.

    This is a difficult situation as there sppears to be a clear split of opinion about the location of the supermarket, and the impact both locations will have on Helensburgh, and specifically the retailers. There has to be recognition that the retailers do not have a power of veto and therefore their arguments for and against have no more or less weight than the arguments put forward by other Helensburgh residents.

    However equally there needs to be recognition that the potential impact on retailers is far greater than the impact on other Helensburgh people and after working hard to provide Helensurgh with years of retail options it would be very cold and merciless to cut them adrift with a dismissive wave of the hand.

    The Council needs to act professionally and considerately and certainly not, as Cllr Dance, demonstrates in this week’s Helensburgh Advertiser belittle the concerns of a key group of stakeholders. For her to describe the retailers protest as ‘amateur dramatics’ does not nothing more than, once again, paint her as a someone not fit for purpose in an elected member role. She has been elected to represent all, not just those who she is in agreement with.

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  5. Why do people want an out of Town Supermarket that will
    kill the town center. Its not fair to the retailer’s, who have served this town for year’s . Just look at the Buffet Shop.

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  6. Hoskins offers us a grown-up and joined-up proposal. The Council should turn down the Colgrain site and suggest a similar space on the much superior pier head site. I have always been concerned about a wave of kids being released twice a day and streaming across that road to buy their snacks – an accident waiting to happen… If Waitrose doesn’t bite then there are plenty more fish in the sea. We’ve waited long enough – let’s not rush this.
    I have a further challenge for Mr Hoskins – could he design an equally aesthetic glazed roof for the car park? I would guess a supermarket would lose at least 30 days a year when wet and windy conditions would send shoppers elsewhere….

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  7. I shop at Asda why cant we get Asda that clearly the vast majority of Helensburgh people would use. More importantly I have two girl’s at the Hermitage and I am furious their safety is being put at risk,when there are other options available. As to date there have been no children knocked down outside the Acadamey, but it will only be a matter of time before this happen’s. What will our Cllrs and Waitrose supporter’s have to say then !!! Lets build it outside Lomond School after all they are the parents that want it. Oh no might put their Childre’s live’s at risk that could’nt possibly be allowed.

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  8. I have two girls at the Hermitage and I am furious that their lives are being put at risk by building a supermarket outside their school. This will be a major arrraction to children and will eventually end with someones child being injured if not killed. Putting a development like this outside our Main school is an appualing planning decision.

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  9. Well done Karen I couldn’t agree more it would be interesting to see, how many Waitrose supporter’s would disappear if this supermarket was being built outside Lomond School. We only have to look at the horrific accidents on U Tube to see how easily children can get injured at busy roads. This development is going to distract our children on a daily basis, when the bell goes children will not care about waiting for the green man they will only be interested in getting across the road. Thankfully we are finally waking up to what is important, and it is the safety of all the children that attend the |Hermitage Academy. I personally don’t care where the supermarket goes but outside the biggest school in the town is totally unacceptable .

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    • The road safety issue is a very real one.

      It echoes huge concerns parents in Arbroath made plain over a council decision to close two perfectly viable schools and build a new one right on the most dangerous road in the town. Traffic speeds and congestion on this road were also aggravated by the presence of a new supermarket. Only recently, a vehicle mounted the pavement, destroyed a bus shelter and injured a pedestrian – on the very section of road where, if the council had got their way, tinies would be walking to school.

      Supermarket traffic is also notoriously unfocused,which increases the risk of accidents.

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  10. I think it has to be said, that no matter where this supermarket is eventually located, it will probably cause traffic problems somewhere in or on the edge of Helensburgh.

    The only hope is that Waitrose will be so flippin expensive, that it will be fewer cars that are going to it.

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    • Waitrose actually doesn’t have to be expensive. It has its own good value range.

      But the traffic issue is a potential horror story. The two peak periods will be the drop offs and pick ups for the academy -with additional traffic for a supermarket, of this is where it goers in the end.

      Much of the schools traffic will also be supermarket traffic, doubling up what you can do in a single run. Some parenys will go to the supermarlet early, park there and arrnge to meet ther kids on there when they get out of schoolo. Some parents will pick their kids up at the school first and then drive across and into the supermarket.

      This situation is potentially a twice daily high-risk bedlam, with cars going in all directions, slowly, across passing traffic and with volumes of young pedestrians, several inevitably going off piste. And imagine a day with driving rain when kids are to meet parents in the supermarket, coffee shop or car park across the road.

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      • If memory serves, the stretch of road approaching the roundabout outside the Academy is also 60mph for the most part. This would not only need to be changed but also enforced.

        Agree with Integ, lets not make this about class. If children’s lives are put at risk, it is entirely irrelevant what their background is.

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        • It’s national speed limit. It’s really not possible to get up to 60 mph on it any more, assuming you observe the urban speed limit to the letter. The limit is quite a long way away from the roundabout. I don’t know if there’s any point in extending it, as people are deeply unlikely to observe it, just as they don’t at the top of Sinclair Street.

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  11. I don’t think turning this into some sort of class battle is all that productive. Based on the numbers in the surveys that have been referenced I very much doubt it is just Lomond School parents who want the supermarket based opposite the Academy. There are many people who don’t have kids in either school and it just as likely that they make up a chunk of the votes.

    I don’t have kids in either school but were they to be then they would be in the Academy – that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the safety of kids in Lomond and I think it is a bit sweeping to insinuate that Lomond parents as a an entire group don’t care about the safety of Academy kids.

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  12. Uh, we already have traffic problems in central Helensburgh. Stealth, unlit cars at night. Suicide pedestrians. Missing streetlights. A relaxed attitude to speed limits, using indicators… and this is before the Helensburgh CHORD one way system starts…

    Saying you can’t build a supermarket at Colgrain because Helensburgh drivers are careless fools is a complete non sequitur. It’s up to Helensburgh drivers to ensure there aren’t any accidents, and Helensburgh school children not to be suicide pedestrians!

    Mind you, that roundabout at the Academy is terribly, terribly designed.

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  13. The vast majority of ordinary people in Helensburgh shop at Asda or Morrison’s it is only a select affuelent minority that want a Waitrose, it is most definitely not the majority of Helensburgh residents.
    Last year there was a local woman knocked down and tragically killed in the Co-op car park so, if something like this can happen in the car park what going to happen on the main access road to this town with hundreds of children running around.
    Un fortunately I do have relatives that attend the Academy so I am perfectly entitled to voice my concerns. I would love to know if the gentleman quoted in this week’s advertiser sends his children to the Academy. Perhaps someone would like to tell us.

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  14. Speaking as someone who was daft enough to run in front of a car at the age of 10, resulting in serious injury. I have to agree with Stephen McKenzie that it’s up to the pedestrians to cross the road safely. Many Hermitage kids manage that crossing several times a day, as the train station is on the opposite side of the road to the school. The dual carriageway is currently a busy road, especially at morning drop off time, when mod workers are travelling to work. Incidently, my accident was on the way to the park at the weekend. Very few accidents happen at school gates due to the presence of lollipop ladies and the positioning of pedestrian crossings / traffic calming measures. One day my children will go to The Academy. As much as I’d like them to buy an oakham chicken on sour dough baguette from Waitrose at lunchtime. I suspect, like the generations of teeangers before, the lure of the chip shop will prevent them crossing the dual carriageway.

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  15. Say’s it all 10yrs of age has’nt a clue how dangerous the road is.I have 13 YEAR OLD CHILD AT THIS SCOOL JUST LIKE YOU Yes it is a busy road but the don’t currently have temptation to run across at break time. Sure the Chip Shop is a bigger attraction but guess what it’s on the SAFE side of the road.Even you might find it difficult to get knocked down

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  16. Ultimately the onus is on the people in the big, mobile metal boxes not to kill anyone. If there’s a serious problem with the road design, the onus is on the council to include any upgrades (e.g. pedestrian crossings) in the planning permission for the new shop.

    In my day it was the small shop next to the bowling club that was the big draw. And, I dunno, Waitrose does some pretty good crisps.

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    • How many accidents have there been involving children in the vicinity of this Hermitage Academy since it opened in 2008? Very few, if any, I suspect.

      Yet many pupils cross the road to go to the station or because they live in South Colgrain.

      Agree with Stephen about the roundabout though. It is appallingly designed, and if Waitrose goes ahead should be replaced.

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      • I don’t think it is really a question about accidents to date and more a question of how significant is the increased risk due to increased traffic levels. Having a new supermarket situated there is clearly going to increase traffic levels both from the Helensburgh direction and Cardross direction.

        Traffic management and road design are obviously vital in terms of reducing this risk.

        I also agree that there are traffic problems in and around the pierhead as it is and putting a supermarker there will also require careful consideration of traffic management.

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  17. “We have been given reliably to understand that there is a particularly serious complaint from an unusual source lodged with Argyll and Bute Council against a councillor – a complaint that may have some bearing on this application.”
    Well done, once again, to For Argyll for trying to expose the real story behind this planning process. The people of Helensburgh are being deliberately and systematically manipulated by Waitrose, for its own profits, some councillors and the local paper, the Helensburgh Dancevertiser, whose coverage of this issue has been disgraceful. They even gave a platform to Dance, already embroiled in a conflict of interest situation over this, to rubbish the local traders in their most recent issue. Unbelievable.
    It is not only the traffic dangers that should motivate as many as possible to stand up to the corrupt vested interests in this situation.

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    • As we understand it, the particular complaint we mentioned came not from a political source but a professional one.

      In our view this elevates its gravity as it cannot be put down to politically motivated manoeuvering.

      We believe that the procedure is for the complaint to go to the CEO who decides whether it merits transmission to the Standards Commission for which it was clearly intended.

      it is entirely possible that the complaint, whatever its substance and the qualified perspectives of its source, will go no further. This is Argyll and Bute Council, after all.

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      • It is worth highlighting that the complainant has the right to take his/her complaint to the Standards Commission regardless of the decision taken by the CEO. The Commission will generally look to ensure the complainant has gone to the LA first and only come to them if not satisfied with the response received.

        If the CEO determines there is no requirement for the Commission to get involved and the complainant feels this is not a satisfactory answer then they should make clear the grounds for their dissatisfaction with the CEO’s reasoning in that secondary complaint (which is really just reiterating your grounds for complaint in the first place).

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  18. I was assuming that the school kids would only go to a supermarket at lunchtime. How long are the breaks these days? I’d be really impressed if they could make it to waitrose, choose some crisps, queue, eat their grub and get back to class on time. Certainly wouldn’t happen in the co op with one check out open!

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  19. Interesting Letter to the Editor in the Herald from an East King Street resident:

    The headline “Community divided over major supermarket plans” might give the impression that there is an even split in the numbers for and against a Waitrose food store (not supermarket) in an edge-of-town (not out-of-town) site in Helensburgh (The Herald, February 18).

    In fact there were about 650 submissions to the council in favour and approximately 40 against.

    There has also been a consultation with the people of Helensburgh as to whether a supermarket should be located on the pier. This was soundly rejected for a third time.

    At the moment, many people (myself included) go to Dumbarton for our weekly food shop in order to have greater choice, but we still shop in Helensburgh from day to day. We are being given the impression by some retailers that we are there to serve them, not that they should be offering a good service.

    Some of the shops involved the protest alluded to in the article sell goods such as jewellery, party items, lingerie, hardware and women’s clothing, none of which is being offered by Waitrose, but which are all readily available in Dumbarton. At times it feels that the Helensburgh public is being held to ransom by a few retailers who seem unwilling to compete.

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    • So what you’ll be wanting then is a Waitrose in town on the pier so you can still use the local shops at the same time, surely? Everyone wins!

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  20. Why do you think that these shop are against an out of town supermarket if it won’t sell what they stock.
    The answer is simple look at Dumbarton ! The foot fall in the town center will be destroyed. Give me one example of an out of town supermarket that has regenerated the Town center ?

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  21. If memory serves me right, Brighton doesn’t have a supermarket on the peir – and it is a fantastic and vibrant seaside town with several happy shopkeepers. There are other ways to regenerate town centres and I think the latest images of the swimming pool by Hoskins is a huge step in the right direction.

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  22. The reference to the majority of Helensburgh people not wanting a supermarket on the pier is an absolute load of utter rubbish. This reference came from Helensburgh Community Council, Darrel Hendry to be precise and is completly and utterly a load of rubbish. The result of HCC’s survey showed that less than 3% of the population of Helensburgh do not want a supermarket on the pier, that leave 97% who quite possibly could want one on the pier but for a number of reason their voices have not been heard. This could be caused by the diabolical way that the HCC survey was carried out, a lack of desire to comment for fear that their opinion wont be counted, or simply because not enough people knew about the meeting, or had time to attend. The only real way most people would know about this meeting is because of the Helensburgh Advertiser, and the distribution of this paper is extremely low.

    What has been totally ignored was the professional survey carried out by Hexagon that is based on scientific principles, unlike the ameraturish efforts of HCC. The Hexagon survey proved that more people were for the pier head development than where against it, and the vast majorty of the respondents wanting it were in the <35 age bracket. This survey was only a street survey, had it been carried out fully the results could have been even wider.

    Once again the people who get a say in Helensburgh appear to be the golden oldies and not the people who count, the younger generation who will have to live with the results of this decision for many many years to come.

    HCC should be disbanded as they are totally uneffective, the fact that the Helensburgh Retailers Association had to stand up for themselves because their voice was ignored by HCC, in fact HCC didn't even have any knowledge of HRA or shop keepers who wanted the pier head site, this goes to show how bad they are, but to be fair, they are all ameratures trying to play at big peoples games when they havne't got a clue. I also notice how some affiliations between the No sayers for the pier development and certain members of HCC has never been mentioned. It does make you wonder what is going on here.

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