There is a real problem with the possible legal challenge of the decision taken by the Northampton Borough Council planning committee to grant permission for the expansion of the Mereway Tesco store.
Who will mount the challenge in the courts and who will pay for it?
Clearly the Borough Council won’t mount a challenge against a decision taken by the all party elected planning committee, especially when it is a clear policy of the Conservative administration to promote out-of-town development as part of ending the town centre first policy which so damaged the previous Liberal Democrat administration.
The planning committee will have reached their decision based entirely on the evidence and application available to them and with a majority of Conservative Councillors on the committee have clearly carried out their duties as laid down in legislation.
Any challenge would therefore have to be mounted by the Parish Council, using taxpayers money to take on one of the most succesful and wealthy businesses in the UK.
The question is will the taxpayers be prepared to see their money spent in this way? and if they are happy for the Parish Council to mount an expensive legal challenge they may ask themselves why when the same council are supportive of the development of a new Waitrose supermarket in the area?
Others will quite rightly start to ask why Borough and County Councillors, all Conservatives state that they are supportive of an ASDA development to support the Saints, of retail development at Sixfields to support the Cobblers and a Waitrose but against the Mereway TESCO development?
Some will consider it downright hypocrisy, some will consider it as fence-sitting for electioneering purposes and others may well see it as the start of back-sliding on manifesto promises and a return to the Town Centre first at the expense of everything else policy, which if true will mean that support for the towns sports teams is now seriously jeopardized.