Developers slam parish poll

THE developers behind a controversial £80 million shopping development have dismissed the results of a damning poll on its design.Residents of Bury St Edmunds last week voted in a parish poll aimed at gauging public opinion about plans to transform the town's Cattle Market into a modern shopping and leisure complex.

THE developers behind a controversial £80 million shopping development have dismissed the results of a damning poll on its design.

Residents of Bury St Edmunds last week voted in a parish poll aimed at gauging public opinion about plans to transform the town's Cattle Market into a modern shopping and leisure complex.

Although 81% of voters said they were against the plans - created by developers Centros Miller -

the poll has been widely criticised as a waste of money because of a poor turnout which saw only 7% of the eligible electorate take part.


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Now, the developers claim the poll was "unrepresentative" of the true feelings of the borough and are instead looking to the results of a further poll being carried out privately by National Opinion Polls (NOP).

A spokesman for Centros Miller said: "The turnout of 7% was extremely low and therefore we don't believe it to be particularly representative of public opinion at the moment.

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"The NOP poll which is being conducted at the moment will give a much clearer indication of the way the people of Bury St Edmunds really think."

Of almost 28,000 people eligible to vote only 1,970 turned out at Thursday's vote, with 354 people in favour of the scheme's basic design and 1,611 against.

But Bury town councillor David Bradbury, who led the group of residents who instigated the poll, said he was disappointed at Centros Miller's attitude.

He said: "Just to dismiss residents' opinions is very disappointing.

"We had a poll and people made the effort and made their opinions known through the poll, and to now say their opinions are not worth tuppence is a very poor attitude, I think."

He said that while he thought the NOP poll would produce interesting results, it was based on gauging the reaction of around 1,000 people, while the town council's poll counted almost double that.

He added: "Therefore our poll's result must be at least as valid, and while I would have liked a stronger turnout, the result is indicative of the public opinion expressed to me through letters and e-mails that there are serious concerns about this development.

"No-one wants to stop this development, it is important for Bury and people just want to make sure it's done right and surely the people's opinion is important in ensuring it is."

At a cost of £10,000 the ballot represented a charge of around £5 for each person who voted, which according to town mayor Frank Warby, of Bury Town Council, constituted poor value for money.

The town council had been forced to carry out the poll after pressure from a group of ten residents led by Mr Bradbury.

Following Thursday's result Mr Warby said: "Only 7% turned out - is that representative of the town? Is £5 per head good value for money? I don't think so."

An EADT readers' poll held in July and August this year revealed that 71% of respondents were either opposed to the scheme or had grave reservations about the design and car parking provision.

A further 12% agreed with the need to develop but disliked aspects of the proposed scheme, while 8.5% welcomed the project and urged St Edmundsbury Borough Council to simply "get on with it."

The town council poll - which has no statutory affect on whether or not the development will go ahead - replaced earlier calls for a referendum, which would have cost taxpayers an estimated £35,000.

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