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Thursday, 26 April 2018

Save Our Parks! Southampton Independents Works With Sports Clubs and Residents

Southampton Independents Councillor for Redbridge Ward Andrew Pope says:

Councillor Andrew Pope
"We work hard to support our local sports clubs, but they have to operate within the rules of local authorities. This includes planning rules and building control. 

This is for safety and to balance uses between all park users. Sports clubs also need to be considerate of local residents and local residents need to be considerate of other park users. We try to help both.

Millbrook Rugby Club at Five Acres listened when we said to them a permanent solid fence around their ground would not be acceptable to residents. We enjoy a constructive dialogue with them, and are happy to see their tubular fencing, as already at Bush Hill FC that I suggested to them, is planned for this Summer. But any more solid fencing would have been unacceptable. They listened and acted to compromise with residents and to ensure fairness with other sports clubs like Bush Hill.

Bush Hill FC listened years ago when I said the same to them, because residents had concerns about their plans. Sadly they have gone back on this since, and we are opposing their 7 foot solid metal fence and plans for gates etc. We hope they will consider alternatives and we will listen if they do. We hope they will compromise. 

However, some residents have told us that they have felt intimidated into not objecting to these plans by a vocal minority of people associated with the Saints Pub and Bush Hill FC. This is unacceptable and we have contacted the Council and the Police. We encourage anybody to contact the Police if they feel this way. In fact there have been attempts to intimidate me. It is unacceptable.

Also recently we have seen a new planning application by Queens Keep FC for a car park, hospitality building and so on, on Five Acres.

We will have a look at it in more detail, and talk to other residents and park users, but it looks like it will take more public park away.

The authorities looked at the shanty town "building" by Queens Keep FC. It was deemed by them unacceptable (see photos below) in terms of safety. It was also a flagrant breach of planning rules on our park. Have a look below for yourself!

They did not apply for planning permission until I brought it to the attention of the Council, having been contacted by residents who felt unsafe and unhappy.

Thanks to my objection, Denise Wyatt's objection and residents' help, and the right decision by the Council, we got permission refused.

We have been totally consistent for all sports clubs. We believe in fairness. We want to help our local sports clubs succeed, but it has to be within the wider community and within the rules.

And we have pledged to protect our parks and open spaces. Because residents asked us to.

We have to, because our parks are under threat. Just look at all the development on Barker Mill land and how much of Five Acres has been taken away. 

Barker Mill took Test Valley Borough Council through the courts recently because they did not agree with the Council enforcing its planning rules. Labour-run Southampton City Council supported the developments, despite not asking residents for their views. I objected to the developments, despite only being given very short notice.

These developments and proposals by Barker Mill, the Labour-run Council and others are putting pressure on our parks to be built upon. The Labour Council wanted to build on Mansel Park and Green Park, until we worked with residents who told them to stop at a public meeting at All Saints Church in 2016. 

The Labour Councillor who chaired the "Regeneration" meeting was booed by residents at the Public Meeting because she (Councillor Cathie McEwing) accused them in the meeting of not caring about our area by asking where they had been. They had told the Council not to build on our parks. And they repeated this at the meeting.

"These are the people's parks" they said at the public meeting. But the Labour councillors wanted to build on them. Do they still want to build on them? Ask them.

In Cathie McEwing's Labour election leaflet, she claims to want housing, but her chairing the Regeneration meetings for three years has only resulted in one public meeting. And that was because Denise Wyatt and I pressured for residents to have their say.

And the Regeneration has resulted in ZERO Council houses. 

Cathie McEwing's chairmanship is like her performance as a councillor - resulting in nothing but talk.

Labour has only built 87 Council homes in entire City in SIX YEARS. So McEwing's promises and Labour's promises on housing are empty. 

They wanted to build on our parks, not protect them.

Residents said no to Labour's plans.

We want to see more Council homes for local people but not built on our parks.

Residents do care about our parks. 

Residents tell us that if things go on like this, with more parts of our parks repeatedly being taken away piece-by-piece, they fear that there will be no parks left for the public to enjoy.

We stand with local sports clubs and with residents, and encourage dialogue with us and with them, to achieve compromise and maintain our area being a great place to live."


Redbridge Wharf Park - also under threat by Labour councillors

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