30 Apr 2011 - Statement on Violence in Stokes Croft

You have probably heard that there have been two nights of violence on Stokes Croft in the last week. Your Cabot ward councillors unreservedly condemn the violence on both nights. There is absolutely no excuse or justification for protesters to smash up shops, throw bricks and bottles at police, light fires, etc.

We do not agree with those who say that this violence is "the community" reacting against an unwanted Tesco store. We believe that the community overwhelmingly wants peace in the area. But it is increasingly clear that a hardcore of "anti-capitalists" are using this situation as a pretext to cause clashes with the police. We are well aware that many in the local community have been terrorised by the resulting nights of violence and destruction, and we support necessary action by the police to protect both public and property.

There have been some complaints about police tactics and behaviour. If you have any complaints, they can be submitted verbally or in writing at any local police station, or to the The Independent Police Complaints Commission here: http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/Pages/forms.aspx where they will be investigated. We are also aware that the police helicopter has caused a lot of sleepless nights over a wide area of the city. We have asked the police to reflect on the pros and cons of helicopter use and we will be having further discussions.

We do agree with those who feel that the original planning application to open a store at the site (by applying in the name of "Jesters Club" rather than "Tesco") was underhand. It has left a lot of bitterness among many people in the area. Tesco may have acted within the law but they have acted insensitively to the community. Our colleagues have conveyed these concerns repeatedly to their senior management in the strongest terms over the last year, and again this week. We hope now that Tesco will enter multi-party dialogue with the community, police and council to determine the way forward.

These nights of violence have unfortunately set back the reputation of Stokes Croft by several years, and indeed put Bristol into the national news for all the wrong reasons. We hope that all those in the local community - including both those opposed to the new Tesco store and those who want a new Tesco store - will see that a hardcore of outsiders are using the local community to further their own agenda, and that all will reject utterly that agenda of violence and destruction and tell the violent minority that they do not speak for the community and are not welcome here.