17 Nov 2009

Tricorn House demo today

Lunchtime today I joined the protest picnic against the Government's decision to refuse a compulsory purchase order which would have seen derelict Tricorn House transformed by energy company Ecotricity into their HQ.

Photos: sent to me by other protestors and the group shot taken by Stroud Life reporter on my camera

There were some 20 of us there including at least one protestor on the roof. Here's some of what I said at the picnic: "Over 4 years ago I interviewed over a 100 people in the area for Cainscross Parish and time and time again in the interviews Tricorn House was raised unprompted. Without exception thoughts about Tricorn House were negative and it was repeatedly mentioned as what people would most like to change about the area. Virtually everyone I speak to still wants action. For over 10 years this building has lain empty with no attempts by the owners to engage with local people. I joined this demo to show my support again for a deal that will enable local wind-energy company Ecotricity to build a new HQ, where more than 300 people will work. This could have a huge positive impact on local businesses in this area. It is time we had a better deal for Cainscross."

The CPO has overwhelming public support. Many have been outraged at the decision of John Denham, Minister at the Department for Community and Local Government, to block the purchase of Tricorn House which has long been a vandalised eyesore on a prominent a Stroud gateway site. Denham has indicated that he has no commitment to either local communities or local government. He has ruled bizarrely that the CPO did not strike a fair balance between the public interest and the human rights of the owner, and that the HQ could be located on another site.

Here is what Martin Large said: "Millville Ltd (owned by Wellfair Holdings) the offshore, Guernsey based owner, has kept Tricorn House mostly empty since 1996 for ‘property investment’. It is now derelict, vandalised, with broken windows. Stroud civil society would like to see the site brought back into productive use, by SDC vigorously continuing its CPO bid to secure the site for Ecotricity. A letter to John Denham has been signed at this picnic, inviting Mr Denham to come and see Tricorn House for himself, and to personally help SDC remove the blockages to reclaiming the site for business and the community."
“Tricorn house is an abomination, that ranks even worse than Stroud Police Station, as the most ugly lump of concrete in the district. The graffitti on it says it all: ‘Please Knock Me Down.’”
Local resident
Anyhow I brought donuts along for the picnic and proceeded to bite into a jam one that shot the jam up my sleeve where it remained when I went to work - agh well it was still tasty. Here is how the SNJ already describe the demo with picks on their website (How dare they beat this blog with the news!):

Concerned residents gathered outside the derelict building in Cainscross to show their support for Stroud District Council's CPO. One protester climbed onto the roof with a banner proclaiming 'Power to the People' will others, who gathered for a picnic, held banners including 'Tri Harder', 'Land 4 People' and 'Reclaim Tricorn'. After a three-day public inquiry into the CPO in July, John Denham, Secretary of State for Community and Local Government, said this month that he did not think there was not a compelling case for a CPO in the public interest. At the picnic, a letter to Mr Denham was signed by protesters, inviting him to come and see Tricorn House, and to personally help SDC remove the blockages to reclaiming the site for business and community. Martin Large, a member of Stroud Common Wealth, said: "Organisations and members of the community now have the chance to make a renewed CPO bid. This could be a community buy out plan with much needed housing, community facilities, offices and a green gateway to Stroud on the Tricorn House site."

As a last note I think it is very unlikely that the community would have the chance of putting in a bid - Ecotricity are already refining their previous bid. I am hopeful that this time they can provide all the info needed to ensure a successful bid. As I said above it is time that local people had a better deal.

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