Now here’s a funny thing – at Canterbury City Council Executive on 29th March, the leader of the council, Cllr Gilbey, went out of his way to congratulate Cllr Vickery-Jones on his recent successes.
The second praiseworthy achievement was Cllr Vickery-Jones’ masterful and diplomatic handling of Tesco’s threatened invasion of Herne. John Gilbey gave a moving account of Cllr Vickery-Jones’ single-handed triumph over the retail giant:
I would like to acknowledge the way you approached the issues that were affecting Herne village recently. It is, I think probably, an example of what a proper Ward councillor should be doing in those circumstances, which is quiet dialogue, which is talking, which is becoming aware, and in the end I think Herne probably got the result that it wanted, I’m sure in no small part to what you did there, so thanks for doing that.
I can’t help feeling that history is being re-written…
Sep 22nd 2011: Cllr Vickery-Jones greets the news of Tesco’s proposed purchase of the Red Lion at Herne thus:
Maybe they can buy the School Lane car park from the council and we can all enjoy some free parking. From the perspective of what a shop there would offer, it has to be good for the area. There isn’t anywhere around there like it.
Sep 29th 2011: Local residents are unimpressed with his approach:
… the complete ignorance and stupidity of Herne councillor Peter Vickery-Jones. Has he ever visited Herne? Does he have eyes? Has he not seen the shop that is right next to the site and serves the community so very well?
I am also disgusted that a local Councillor is in favour of a Tesco Express, does he not realise what effect it would have on the area and local business, especially the shop next door and the pub opposite? He may be a councillor but he’s out of touch with his local community.
Jan 12th 2012: An anti-Tesco rally fills the church at Herne, giving Cllr Vickery-Jones an opportunity to show how out of touch he is with popular feeling:
I didn’t expect so many people.
Jan 26th 2012: Tesco continue to ride rough-shod over local opinion, and the local councillor is unconvincing:
I did my best to persuade them that this is not an appropriate spot, but they are not convinced and say they have faced opposition, but over time it dries up and people start using the stores. Unfortunately I don’t have any lawful way of stopping them.
Feb 3rd 2012: Tesco tries to buy its way round the problem – the parish council refuse the money, but City Cllr Vickery-Jones’ hands are outstretched, in a defeated kind of way:
Peter Vickery-Jones said that, despite the parish council voting to reject any cash contributions from the supermarket as part of its planning application, the city council would be keen to use the money for a training and education project in Herne.
“Short of civil disobedience, there’s nothing we can do about Tesco coming.”
Mar 4th 2012: Ignoring the defeatism of their Ward councillor, the people of Herne mobilise en masse, and between 700 and 1,000 people march through Herne in protest.
Mar 9th 2012: Tesco shelve their plans, citing “highway contraints” – no mention of any “quiet dialogue” with Cllr Vickery-Jones prompting or influencing their decision. The Herne villagers earn themselves national news coverage.
It is often said that the Conservative party’s not-very-secret weapon is unity. This seems to extend to unflinching loyalty to any of their number who stumble, and in this case giving them credit for anyone’s success.
Cllr Gilbey lavished praise on his colleague, but said not a word about the efforts and achievement of the Herne villagers who Cllr Vickery-Jones should have been supporting and representing throughout.