Monday, 12 October 2009

We’ll go naked to stop Tesco!

Press release: 12 October 2009

Branch promises nude calendar should Tesco application be rejected

Malago Women's Institute members pledge to produce a nude calendar if the planning application for a new superstore at Ashton Gate is rejected by the Bristol City Council planning committee on 5 November.

The branch, who welcomed 87 women to their September knitting meeting, feels so strongly about the negative impact a huge supermarket would have on their local area and community that they decided to take a stand.

"We are always being asked when our nude calendar will be on sale," explains Karen Bowers, President, "but always maintained this new WI 'tradition' was not for us. However, when our members were asked to consider make their feelings known about the Ashton Gate application in such a public way, they enthusiastically agreed and the calendar suggestion was met with cheers."

The first nude WI calendar was produced by the Rylstone branch in Yorkshire, who sold 202,000 copies of their calendar in aid of Leukemia Research, and went on to be featured in the film and musical 'Calendar Girls'.

Malago WI was founded in 2008 after a group of like-minded women wanted to create a community group to include all women in the area. Much of their activity has been focused around North Street, which looks set to suffer the most damage should the superstore application get the go-ahead.

Vice president Lottie Storey says "North Street was the centre of my world when I was on maternity leave. Even if I didn't have shopping to do, I met up with friends in cafes and would always bump into someoneI knew on my way. It was a lifeline during the early months with a newborn, and meant I got out of the house. The high street is at the heart of the community, and we are so lucky to live near a thriving example - not just mums at home, but everyone."

The detrimental effect a superstore would have on North Street has already been identified by the assessment made by Bristol City Council planning committee. They identified no need for the store, a likely decline in the quality of [Bedminster town] centre in the medium and longer term, leading to decline in the physical condition and attractiveness of the centre. The report also says that the store site offers poor access by walking, cycling and public transport and offers only good access by car (creating traffic, safety and environmental issues), and that any jobs created would be off set by job losses elsewhere, with no evidence of the store boosting economic and physical regeneration.

Malago WI's views echo those of Berate campaigner, Chris Uttley, in countering the 'no Tesco, no stadium' argument. The branch believes that if Bristol City Football Club regard the new stadium as essential, they would not be relying upon something as controversial and unpredictable as a planning application for a vast new superstore - instead, private finance should be sought.

Likewise, linking the superstore application to that of the stadium is disingenuous. Branch members believe that sale of the land to Tesco in order to 'enable' the stadium development would effectively 'disable' so many aspects of a thriving neighbourhood, and this is too high a price to pay.

Malago Women’s Institute is set to celebrate its first birthday in October, and has grown from a group of 10 founding members to a membership of over 60. Made up of women of all ages, the group includes those who have lived in the area all their lives, as well as members who are new to the city.

The WI has a particular interest in environmental sustainability, and Malago WI has developed an environmental policy and action plan setting out its vision for minimising its own environmental impact and exploring ways to support local, sustainable projects.


Notes to editors:

Image credit: Alice Hendy.

Email for high resolution images.

Malago WI’s environmental policy is available to view on the website:

Branches of the Women's Institute nationwide campaign on matters of local, national and international importance. Current campaigns and projects include: end violence against women, Fairtrade, supporting post offices, climate change, foodwaste, 10/10 carbon challenge.

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