Statement from Councillor Geoff Prout – Leader, Labour Group, Shadow Leader of Dartford Borough Council

The news that Tesco have today announced they will now not be building a store in Lowfield Street will surprise few people in Dartford.  The saga of Lowfield Street has been a well documented story of delay, frustration and a failure to deliver for local people.

The Conservative Council chose to ignore our warnings not to gamble the future of our town centre on the fortunes on a supermarket.  There can now be little doubt that local business owners and residents have been badly let down by both the actions of Tesco and the council’s misjudgement and failure to manage the project effectively.  Both owe Dartford a huge apology for how this has been handled over the last few years.

Labour have repeatedly asked the council what their ‘Plan B’ was should Tesco pull out.  That day has now arrived, but residents are no closer to understanding what the intentions of Tesco or the council now are.  Residents should be kept informed and that’s why Labour is today requesting that the Mayor convene an emergency council debate so that everyone is able to hear how we will work together to move forward from here.

What’s important now is that we are able to rescue something from this sorry state of affairs.

Labour will be offering its full support and co-operation to the council in order to find a new solution for Lowfield Street that puts the needs of our community before short term private profit.  We should never accept that the interests of a supermarket should come before what’s best for our town and we need to keep up the pressure on Tesco to use the Lowfield Street site in a way that will benefit Dartford.  We also desperately need legislation to stop developers sitting on land and inflicting such huge damage on our communities.

Ultimately, we can only achieve a better future of our town centre with the involvement of residents – their voice needs to be heard. Labour are committed to working directly with local people, businesses, council officers and developers to create a new vision for our town.

This has been a hugely frustrating experience for everyone in Dartford and the boarded up properties on Lowfield Street demonstrate the price of Tesco and the Council’s failure.  2015 can be the year when Dartford makes a fresh start.  Together, we can all make it happen.

 

About the author

Andy Clark is retired after a long career at Lloyds Register and subsequently the Civil Service. He has lived in Dartford for his entire life.

1 comment on “Lowfield Street: Statement From Dartford Labour Group”

  1. Steven Reply

    Dear Mr Prout,

    Before you go about chastising the “Conservative Council’s Failure” maybe you could actually take two minutes from your spewing of Labour party propaganda, and read the letter from Tesco whom are the real cause of all of this.

    * Also you voted with the council in every major decision taken in regards to Lowfield Street. By using your logic, it was YOU and Dartford Labour Party that started this in the first place, when Dartford Labour encouraged Tesco to buy the site. *

    Personally I take the view that it’s Tesco’s fault, as such I will not be shopping at any of Dartford’s Tesco branches, until they have sold Lowfield Street. I am personally encouraging all citizens in the Dartford area to do the same. #goodbyeANDgoodriddanceTESCO

    Secondly your assertion that the council has not done anything regarding the town center, is completely inaccurate. I find the idea that you have put forward in your statement- that Dartford’s town center’s entire future depended on a failing supermarket chain to be moronic. Dartford’s town center- not including Lowfield Street (which is owned by Tesco) – has only 3 vacant lots. Judging by the statements made by yourself, you seem to be completely unaware that there is a thriving market that sets up shop in the town center Thursday to Sunday, every week!

    What’s more your statement completely dismisses the following investments made by the council over the last 12 years. . . pardon me the investments made by the “Conservative Council” (as that’s what you call it): a new community stadium, a Darford judo club, Hesketh Park pavilion and let’s not forget the renovation of Fairfield pool, which by the by, is on LOWFIELD STREET!!!. . . and that’s just for starters.

    Mr Prout, Dartford Labour if you would like to debate the future of Dartford, let’s hear it, but for the love of the good god please stop complaining about things and pretending that this is an alternative vision for Dartford or even the country.

    Yours very unhappily

    Steven Jarnell

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