Today there is a feeling of bewilderment amongst campaigners and local residents at how Basingstoke Borough Council has dealt with the QEII Park dedication – as one Whitchurch councillor calls it a ‘Road to Nowhere’
Last night Whitchurch residents and councillors presented a case to the Borough Council’s Cabinet that it was committing a ‘breach of trust’ with the local community in changing the rules on the competition to dedicate Daniel Park as a Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Field after it had taken place.
The whole Park had been nominated
Documents showed that the Council had nominated the whole 4.3 hectare field for inclusion in the competition which then came top in the ballot for designation as open space in perpetuity in honour of Her Majesty The Queen.
However, after the public vote they are reserving a 20-metre swathe through the land for a possible highway.
Even when the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had agreed to remove this proposal from the final recommendations it was still put to the Council’s cabinet last night, bewildering many who are questioning the democracy involved.
Could lead to blight
Campaigners argued that allocating the land for possible road use, without any firm plans in place, would also lead to a blight on the area that could leave the Borough open to compensation claims – as one resident said “we watch our house value plummet – what has Whitchurch done to BDBC for them to continually ignore our wishes?”
Strong representations made
Despite strong speeches by Mike Kean of the Town Council and from Borough Councillor Keith Watts with support from Cllr Stuart Parker of Eastrop, the Cabinet members remained unmoved. Presentations from local residents Kathy Edwards, Dr Paul Barber and John Buckley fell on deaf ears. A petition from Alliston Way residents presented by Barry Thomas, did not sway their decision either. Cllr Kean dubbed the road as ‘The Road to Nowhere’.
Comments not referred to
Many residents, including the Primary School, had sent in comments, to Cllr Ranil Jayawarden, Deputy Leader, but he did not refer to any of them during the meeting, including that the school’s governing body had said:
“plans for increased traffic in and around Daniel Road will
compromise pupil safety”.
Poor communication in the Council
It was only Cllr Clive Sanders who showed any sympathy when he said “I have a gut feeling to go with local people” and indicated that there were issues of communication between different parts of the Council. On the claims that the officers had mishandled the whole situation he said he thought it was “more cock-up than conspiracy”.
However he still supported the exclusion of land from the QEII field for a possible road and the proposal was passed.
The Councillors who make up the Cabinet are:
Cllr Clive Sanders – Conservative – East Woodhay
Cllr Ranil Jayawardena – Conservative – Bramley and Sherfield
Cllr Andrew Finney – Conservative – Oakley and North Waltham
Cllr Cathy Osselton – Conservative – Kingslere
Cllr Karen Cherrett – Conservative – Rooksdown
Cllr Elaine Still – Conservative – Chineham
Cllr Rob Golding – Conservative – Oakley and North Waltham (absent from meeting)