The public meeting on Friday 13th April with Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat MP for Kingston-upon-Thames, on how to beat Tesco was a huge success. Indeed it set a benchmark for cross-party working in St Albans.
The meeting was designed for local residents opposed to the Tesco plans to meet Ed and learn how he successfully campaigned against a similar Tesco application in his south London constituency.
It was standing room only in the Trinity United Reform Church hall.It was particularly gratifying that Anne Main MP and Cllr Roma Mills both came to pick up campaigning tips from Ed.
I opened the meeting by saying that I had been called on Thursday by an anxious Tesco and by their lobbyist that very morning. It shows that meetings of this kind do have an impact and can make a difference.
There were then opening speeches from Mike Dilke of the local non-party political residents’ campaign, from local county councillor Chris White on traffic and retail impact issues, and then from Ed Davey detailing all the key arguments and points which worked in heading off Tesco in his own constituency.
I was pleased to then invite Anne Main and Roma Mills to make their own impressive contributions. This really helped to emphasise the all-party nature of the opposition to Tesco’s current proposals.The subsequent exchange of questions and answers between the audience and the panel worked just as I had hoped in teasing out all sorts of useful tips and ideas.
As Ed Davey made clear, Tesco will still come back with new proposals for his south London constituency.They are not out of the woods in Kingston yet and still have a fight on their hands.So he was delighted to take away learning points from the meeting too.
We ended up with Ed Davey, myself, Anne Main and Roma Mills standing shoulder-to-shoulder with local residents.It is so refreshing when politicians from different parties can demonstrate they can work together and learn from each other.As the heading of this website proclaims, on so many issues the real fight is for St Albans and the villages, and should not just be about politicians taking lumps out of each other. I really hope this will be a precedent for future occasions in St Albans.