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By Dan Evans and Sam Lister
TESCO will defy the rioters who smashed up its controversial Cheltenham Road store by re-opening soon.
Workers began repairing the broken front windows and graffiti-covered sign above the door yesterday.
Repairs and restocking of the looted store also appeared to be going on, as it emerged during a magistrates’ court hearing that damage estimated at £100,000 was caused to the shop and surrounding properties during the riot on the night of April 21 to 22.
Despite both peaceful and violent protests about Tesco’s presence in Cheltenham Road, the supermarket has decided to reopen the store, which was forced to close due to the extensive damage caused when about 300 people clashed with police.
Riot police outside the Telepathic Heights squat on the Royal Wedding Day standoff
Tesco will not reveal specifically when the shop will reopen, but the Evening Post understands it could be some time next week.
A spokeswoman said: “We are carrying out repairs to the store, but as yet no opening date has been agreed. We are continuing to talk to community groups, the council, police and our customers.”
Last night, a meeting took place between Tesco, Ashley and Cabot ward councillors and representatives of the Stokes Croft community to encourage an “ongoing constructive dialogue” between the firm and the public.
However, the threat of animosity against Tesco was clear by the presence of a security guard on the roof of the store – a sight familiar for months before it opened last month.
Ashley councillor Jon Rogers
Councillor Jon Rogers (Lib Dem, Ashley), who attended yesterday’s private meeting, said that councillors, members of the community and Tesco had met to ensure that everyone “understands each other”.
He said: “From my perspective I am very keen that people talk. We cannot see a repeat of the scenes from the last couple of weeks.
“I am pleased that everyone is sitting around the same table and there are discussions looking at what the various options are and how we can reach some compromises that suits everyone.”
Meanwhile, Avon and Somerset police have confirmed they are planning to claim back from a Government pot the “astronomical” costs of tackling the riots.
The cost of over-time and bank holiday pay, damage to cars and equipment, plus drafting in officers from Wiltshire, Gwent and South Wales forces could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Policing of a smaller protest in March 2010 cost £60,000, when mounted police, plus 70 officers on foot and 40 bailiffs tried to evict squatters who had occupied the former Jester’s Comedy Club that became the new Tesco.
But in the troubles of April 21 and 22, 160 police were involved.
And in the second riot and operation to evict squatters from the building known as Telepathic Heights on April 29, more than 100 officers were required again.
Graffiti in Stokes Croft after the recent riots
Home Office Minister Nick Herbert told MPs on Monday that the force would be able to make a submission for extra cash to cover the costs of the extraordinary clashes.
The force would have to submit a “business case” to the Home Office outlining why it deserved a pay out from its exceptional costs fund.
Avon and Somerset police has refused to reveal the total cost for “operational reasons”.
Bristol magistrates heard yesterday how rioters caused £100,000-worth of damage to Tesco Express and surrounding properties, including Fred Baker Cycles.
Prosecutor Gemma Newbone revealed the figure during a court appearance by Rachel Cox, 22, of no fixed address, who has been charged with violent disorder and taking cigarettes from the shop.
Unemployed Miss Cox, who did not enter pleas to the charges, is accused of kicking and throwing objects at the shop’s window and hurling objects towards police officers on April 22.
Meanwhile, blue stickers have been appearing in the Stokes Croft and Cheltenham Road areas, commemorating the “Bristol Riots, April 2011″.
Mimicking the traditional blue plaques used to commemorate well-known people and places, one of them has been put on the Bristolian Cafe in Picton Street, which had a window smashed during the first riot.
Owner Cath Archer said: “The sticker just appeared a couple of days ago. I don’t mind it being there. I just see it as a joke, poking a bit of fun.”
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