OPINION: Colin Blumenau ponders new Royston Tesco store

Site where the new Tesco store will be built near Market Hill in Royston Site where the new Tesco store will be built near Market Hill in Royston

Saturday, April 26, 2014
3:01 PM

Colin Blumenau’s look at the news in Crow country.

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I was just thinking about… sitting on sharp things. No, it’s not some middle-aged perversion that I feel the need to come out about to the readership of the Crow. I was thinking more of sitting on the horns of a dilemma.

It is metaphorically sharp and actually uncomfortable. This discomfort exists for the simple reason that the occupier of said sedentary position needs a constant spur in order for her or him to become decisive. Yet sometimes it’s hard. Contentious decision-making in favour of one side of an argument is bound to be unpopular with proponents of the opposing point of view.

The Great God Tesco, as you may possibly have noticed if you breathe North Hertfordshire air, is erecting its newest Temple of Consumerism and Acquisition at the top of the town. This global player has put in a ‘multiple application’ for exciting and necessary things like, bollards, holes in the wall, air handling units and illuminated shop fronts.

Now there are some people who grumble, people who moan, people who appear on the front of the local newspaper, petition grasped firmly in one hand and a brave ‘we-shall-go-down-fighting’ smile playing about their determined features. There will be problems like buggies not being able to pass on the pavement and noise and “No-one else in Royston” they say “has bollards or illuminated shop front, so why should Tesco?”

Then there are more sanguine folk who shrug their shoulders, resign themselves to the inevitable and make pragmatic decisions about whether they will use the new store or to continue to visit its elder sibling on the outskirts of the town or, indeed, drive the unnecessary dozen miles to indulge themselves in the Cantabrigan luxuries of Waitrose at vastly inflated prices. I would hazard a guess that the majority of these don’t live particularly close to the site of the development.

Finally, there are the enthusiasts and the supporters who, with unwavering zeal flashing in their crusading eyes and the fixed grin of the progressive etched into their facial features, have decided that the new store is a good thing. They have embraced its convenience.

They have welcomed its putative impact on the revitalisation of that part of the town, the regeneration of the whole town centre perhaps. They are sure that no problem is insuperable and that the moaning minnies and the nimbies should put a sock in it.

Now I don’t know how the populace of our great democratic conurbation seated at the Roysia Cross lines up on the issue. What is inevitably certain is each of the responses to the dilemma will have its devotees. What is also certain is that it is a real dilemma. The problems aren’t made up just to be obstructive.

Our children grew up with the electronic clamour of the neighbouring shop’s fridges and freezers humming and buzzing away 24/7. It’s not great I can tell you. Light pollution is a problem. Perambulator and buggy widths seem to be ever increasing, along with the girths of some of the anticipatory folk pushing them.

But in a town which all too frequently bemoans the closure of its emporia shouldn’t we be thrilled with the advent of a new and potentially custom-building store? Shouldn’t we all have, in fact, latent emporia euphoria?

The horns of this dilemma are sharp but not everyone is going to be happy, so our local democracy will determine the outcome today. But, and this is where I quail, I read that South Cambridgeshire District Council [not ours, I know] is virtually advertising for people to come forward to become a stand-up-and-be-counted part of the democratic process. If the same is the case at NHDC, are we already scraping the bottom of the barrel?

Has disenchantment in the political process already lead to a compromised local democracy? That would be a real dilemma indeed.

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