Graham Powell occupied the platform, acting as chairman and speaker. He said that the meeting had been called to “give the public knowledge and give opportunity to make opinion known”. He was not opposed to another supermarket in Caldicot, but opposed the use of the school playing fields for this purpose. 370 people had attended the consultation session held in the library and the great majority of these had been opposed to the scheme.
He argued that many of the problems faced by the town centre were the result of high rents charged by Ravenseft, the property company that built and owned the shops. Monmouthshire County Council should, he said, take back control of these properties, even through compulsory purchase if necessary. Regeneration was needed but needed to take place in a proper planned way, taking into account what the people wanted.
According to his informants, 13 supermarket companies had been asked if they were interested in seeking planning permission for the school field site but none were interested. He understood that MCC itself would be applying for planning permission in August. The money would not come to the school. It would go directly to MCC, which could reallocate some or all of the money if it wished. The land was not, as claimed, worth a million pounds per acre but only about £22,000 per acre. He believed five companies had been paid up to £19,000 by MCC in survey and consultancy fees, and that the total cost of such work was likely to reach £100,000. In this, the council had exceeded its authority and he would be asking WAG to inquire into the council’s “financial misdemeanours” and “maladministration”.
In England nobody was allowed to use playing fields for development purposes, but this did not apply in Wales. Nevertheless, the Sports Council for Wales would seek to stop the development.
A number of points were made from the floor. Jacob Powell said that the majority of the youth in Caldicot were opposed to the sale. Mr Eric Brown offered to answer questions of a technical nature. He expressed his opposition to the scheme, contrasting it to the work that has been done over many years to provide first rate sports facilities. He said that he believed the regulation that stated that 22 acres was the required amount of playing fields was intended for situations in which a school had sole use of them, whereas Caldicot’s fields were also used by the wider community.
No Caldicot town or county councillors were present, although Mike Smith (County Councillor for Rogiet) was present. He asked if the natural grass areas could be replaced by astroturf pitches at a ration of 3:1. Mr Brown replied that this was not acceptable because astroturf could not be used for competitive matches. Even when used for training astroturf was not a realistic substitute for grass because pupils could not fall on it without fear of injury and because they could only play on it wearing trainers rather than boots.
After a number of other brief points from the floor and frequent comments from Graham Powell a resolution was passed (with one vote against) opposing the building of a supermarket on the school field. Names were taken from the floor for an action committee. In addition to Graham Powell, these were: Margaret Harris, Jill Bond, Cheryl Kerr, Richard Milligan and Jacob Powell. A petition was circulated.