Fury at road 'option' through Trust park

Whitchurch residents protest on the corner of Daniel Road

Whitchurch residents protest on the corner of Daniel Road

First published in News by , Chief Reporter

A PARK that was meant to be saved as open space forever in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee could instead have a road running through it.

Daniel Park in Whitchurch was the one park in the borough to win enough votes in a national competition to preserve open spaces for ever to mark the jubilee.

To achieve protection, the borough council has to agree a deed of dedication.

But on Tuesday night, the borough’s Cabinet decided to protect the park in the deed, but leave out a 20-metre-wide strip to provide access to a possible 200-home development in the council-owned Knowlings Field.

They ignored a vote in the council’s economic, prosperity and performance committee that the strip of land should be protected.

Whitchurch borough councillor Keith Watts called the Cabinet decision a “breach of trust” as borough council officers had first put the park into the national ballot, run by charity Fields in Trust.

He told the Cabinet: “Officers allowed the ballot to go ahead, knowing that the council was not legally committed to complying with the result. That was cynical and unworthy.”

Kathy Edwards, a 56-year-old chartered surveyor from Wheeler Close, told the meeting: “When the public voted to protect and dedicate Daniel Park, it was not envisaged that we could end up with even less recreation land than we currently enjoy.”

She added: “It’s disrespectful to Her Majesty the Queen.”

Dr Paul Barber, a Whitchurch GP, said the whole process seemed undemocratic. And Whitchurch resident John Buckley said leaving out the strip was a “despicable breach of trust.” A petition signed by residents of Alliston Way was also presented.

In response, Tony Curtis, chief executive of the council, said: “I don’t believe that the officers involved in this acted cynically. If there’s an issue in the council, it might be to do with different parts not working in-sync on this matter.”

Cabinet member Cllr Ranil Jayawardena said by leaving the strip of land out of the dedication, it left “options open” for the council.

He added: “If the people of Whitchurch don’t want to develop the site then there will never be a need for access to it.”

Cllr Clive Sanders said: “My gut feeling is to go with the local people.” But he added it might be a mistake to cut off Knowlings Field.

Comments (1)

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11:19am Sat 24 Mar 12

The _right_stuff says...

Another mess by the council.

If I was a Whitchurch resident I'd tell the council to stick it and leave the field out of the dedications....would
n't that be embarrasing to the council.

So it was given with one hand...and taken with the other.
Another mess by the council. If I was a Whitchurch resident I'd tell the council to stick it and leave the field out of the dedications....would n't that be embarrasing to the council. So it was given with one hand...and taken with the other. The _right_stuff
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