I've never been on a demonstration - unless the million strong march in support of foxhunting, which took place in the run up to the passing of the Hunting with Dogs Act counts. As I recall, that was just a gentle stroll through the streets of London. But I was thinking of carrying my first placard tomorrow morning - but eventually decided against it. Let me explain.
Background to this is the development of a new 39,000 sqr. ft. Tesco supermarket in Newtown, Montgomeryshire. Now, I don't share the antipathy some hold for the supermarket giant. Its brilliantly managed, and provides what the customer wants. Welshpool people are shopping in Newtown!! Even Mrs D, Welshpool through and through, shops there. But I was not in favour of this development being granted permission. As far as I recall, local opposition at the time was led by Conservative Assembly Candidate, Dan Munford, supported by me. I recall the developer's transport experts putting on a display for a large crowd of us at the Elephant and Castle, which I thought was fantastical 'cobblers'. My opposition was based on likely traffic congestion and damage to the distant town centre. But permission was granted. I was 'gobsmacked' when the Assembly Government did not call the application in - and refuse it.
And then to make matters worse, the Assembly Government required Tesco to pay for the installation of traffic lights in place of the McDonald's roundabout. I thought this was nuts. Not all of those I consult on these things agrees with me here. Whatever, the combination has created utter chaos since Tesco opened for business a few weeks ago. The issue is 'What happens now'? Working with local councillors and AMs, I've been trying to generate some concern in the mind of Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister at the Assembly, who is the responsible person. And something called a SCOOT system has been installed today, which is predicted to improve things.
And then, along with hundreds on others, I received a message on Facebook from our MP informing us that he, personally, was going to fix it - if the problems had not been sorted by 9.00 tomorrow morning. Must admit this alarmed me. Only a fool would disrupt traffic (and make the situation worse) or interfere in the traffic controls (which would risk human life). Anyway, it seems that the Police warned the MP that he would be arrested if he went ahead with his plans - and rightly so. So Mr Opik has arranged a placard waving protest instead. I'm with him on this, and would like to have gone along in support. But in the end, I decided I shouldn't intrude on my political opponent's plans. But I'll be there with him in spirit, and all those who join in. Probably drive past and give them a toot - unless the traffic jams are too great!