On receipt of the following letter, I agreed to publish subject to the Parish Council seeing and having the right to reply before publication. The writer agreed to this and both the letter and the council’s reply are shown below – Editor
Sam Middup Field, Woodborough
Having attended the Public Meeting at the village hall on the 26/11/2018 and in trying to express my opinion I was denied my right to continue by the acting chairman of the PC namely Mr John Charles Jones
To compound this Mr John Charles Jones asked me if I would like to chair the meeting also that I would have the opportunity to stand for the up and coming elections of Parish Councillors in May 2019.
I found Mr John Charles Jones attitude extremely patronising, rude and disrespectful not only to myself but to all of the other parishioners who had taken the time to attend the meeting and that they were also were denied the opportunity to hear to my observations and comments.
I informed Mr John Charles Jones that if I was not allowed to continue I would be publishing my text on the Woodborough web as set out below:-
(A) Having read through the survey in detail it appears to me that the parish council have made a monumental error in pursuing the purchase of the Sam Middup field
It would appear that the PC went ahead with the conveyancing which was executed at astonishing speed without any form of business plan /site development proposition or future planning for upkeep and maintenance.
(B) There were several reasons by the PC quoted in support of their purchase, one being was to stop it being built upon, but had there been any likelihood of this happening during the last round of the SHLAA process of site selection then it is without doubt that the Middup family would have elected to sell it for possible future development, as this would have been more financially beneficial for them rather than selling it to the parish council.
(C) Another reason mentioned was that a possibility of a full size football and cricket pitch but as the survey shows these two items are in a minority, this being probably due to duplication of the existing sports fields which historically have served the village adequately.
(D) One of the suggestions on the survey is to sell the field, however this would create further problems as the price paid for the 9 acres was £225,000 which equates to £25,000 /acre this being well in excess of the national average £10,000 to £15,000 /acre for what is listed as grade 2 agricultural land
(E) A further suggestion is to leave it as an agricultural tenancy, again this is would appear to be unrealistic as the rent generated would probably only amount to £1000 /pa and would have little or no effect in the reduction of the debt which been incurred upon the residents of Woodborough
(F) As the survey shows it looks as if the wild flower meadow closely followed by a picnic area are the front runners, if this is the case then it must be one of the most expensive and extravagant projects that the parish council has ever embarked upon .
Finally the most worrying issue is that we the council tax paying public had no control whatsoever on this ill thought out scheme, we now find ourselves in a position with PC not having a clear plan in what to do with the field, and with the results of the survey unable to justify this costly purchase.
Can I thank everyone who took time to attend the public meeting regarding the results of the consultation on parish facilities and the Sam Middup field.
The objective of the meeting was to consider the consultation results and to start to discuss how we use them to plan how the field might be developed, in a way that meets the approval of the majority of residents. I had the privilege of being able to read all of the responses to the survey and it will come as no surprise when I say that villagers’ ideas and hopes for the field vary considerably. There is of course no single solution that will delight everybody. The job of the Parish Council is to try to come up with a plan that meets the approval of the majority, and minimises the concerns of those who do not agree.
At the meeting it was asserted that no consultation had been carried out prior to a bid for the field being made. However, in the summer of 2016 the Parish Council consulted the village on the proposed purchase of the field (for leisure use) via a leaflet which went to every door. 70.7% of electors who responded told us that they were in favour.
In the 2016 consultation leaflet, the Parish Council also highlighted that parish ownership would protect the land from future housing development. While it is true that this field had not been approved by Gedling for housing in the next 10 year period, the Parish Council has a duty to consider the long term. The Parish Council was bidding against a developer who would have land banked the field in the hope of building on it at some time in the future.
While the survey’s purpose was to establish which facilities might be popular in future, some respondents took the opportunity to tell us that they thought the field should be sold or should continue to be rented out (effectively at a loss to the parish). I communicated these comments, as my brief was to be open and transparent with the results, but they do not reflect the recommendations of the Parish Council.
Thank you for allowing me to clarify a few points. I’m happy to answer any questions about the consultation and my contact details can be found on the wpc website.
(Clerk to Woodborough Parish Council)