Councillor Andrew Pope
UPDATE (30th April 2018):
THE PLANNING APPLICATION HAS NOW BEEN WITHDRAWN BY BUSH HILL FC AND THEIR AGENT
Southampton Independents Councillor Andrew Pope says:
"I have received the following notice from Southampton City Council's planning department, which is making the decision over the Bush Hill FC fence etc on Mansel Park (planning reference 18/00394) submitted from the address of the Saints Pub.
I have informed the agent for the application that if it is not withdrawn then it will be refused. I have been waiting for instruction from the agent on how they intend to proceed before updating you.
As soon as I receive a response from the agent the application will be handled immediately, either with a withdrawal or with a decision issued.
I have visited the site, and we have not received any comments from the other Ward Councillors.
Southampton City Council'
I have been "invited" by the Chair of the Redbridge Residents Association*, Eugene McManus, to a public meeting on Monday night to discuss this planning application.
Denise Wyatt, the Southampton Independents Redbridge Council Candidate, has not received a direct invitation. Mr McManus chose to go through me instead, for some reason. He has also referred to Denise as my "girlfriend". Denise is my partner in life. Denise must be respected, which she is in our area, because she is actually a public figure who works hard for our area, including providing advice and support over many years to Mr McManus as Chair of the Residents Association. Mr McManus' actions and his attitude towards her as a female Council Candidate are deplorable and unacceptable.
At this stage, as the planning application will either be refused or withdrawn, there is nothing to discuss.
I would like to thank Southampton City Council and the residents who objected, including those who asked for their name and address to be removed, because they felt intimidated.
- someone associated with the Saints Pub Mr Lee Elliott confronting me and a female colleague in the street on Facebook Live, giving a false name and asking questions based on false information and making unsubstantiated allegations designed to intimidate me into not objecting to the planning application
- Facebook abuse and messages, again with the source appearing to be Mr McManus
- intimidation of residents who objected, by posting their names and addresses across Twitter and Facebook. This led to residents asking for their names and addresses to be hidden by the Council.
- intimidation of Council candidates, by posting their names and addresses across Twitter and Facebook without properly obscuring the addresses
This is the ONLY planning application I have ever, in SEVEN YEARS of being a councillor, that these things have happened with. Anyone would think this was Tower Hamlets, not Southampton.
IT IS TOTALLY AND UTTERLY UNACCEPTABLE.
THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A DEMOCRACY AND CIVILISED SOCIETY!
So why is Mr McManus continuing with the meeting?
His Agent should know about the decision by the Council?
Is he carrying on with the meeting to intimidate voters and candidates? I hope not.
But it is reasonable to conclude so, considering the atmosphere that has been created, and because of the fact that he has now displayed a banner against Denise Wyatt on the Saints Pub.
I have contacted the Returning Officer again, who has already been in touch with Mr McManus and Mr Extance regarding their conduct.
Perhaps another plan will come forward. Hopefully that plan will be discussed before being submitted to the Council.
I repeat my advice given to Mr McManus before, but which he chose to ignore.
If Mr McManus wishes to change the setup at Bush Hill FC on Council land, he should discuss it with me as a ward City Councillor and representative of the people, with local residents and the Council planning department first.
We are in this situation because Mr McManus chose not to do this, against my advice. Perhaps he knew that I and residents would object, because I told him this before.
Mr McManus via Facebook has also defamed and abused, and allowed others to defame and abuse, myself and Denise Wyatt, as well as ignored the legitimate concerns of local residents.
Other local sports clubs like Millbrook Rugby Club have listened to my advice and I enjoy constructive dialogue with them, and now have planning permission. Compromise and dialogue are essential components of building and maintaining trust.
But Mr McManus' actions have destroyed any constructive dialogue that I sought, over years, to build with him. He did not seek any compromise, preferring to try to railroad this ill-thought-through application through Council planning.
Perhaps dialogue can be rebuilt between myself and Bush Hill FC, but that will take considerable work. I am always approachable and ready to discuss.
Despite the appalling behaviour of Mr McManus, I wish the coaches and players of Bush Hill FC well for the rest of the season with the current ground, that I actively supported going in, and I hope that the current problems raised by residents with me, and with the Council and Police, can be resolved. This includes parking, damage to Council land, road safety problems and anti-social behaviour on match days.
I look forward to supporting Bush Hill FC and all other local sports clubs to continue to develop, and reaching compromise over competing interests with residents.
As a final note, looking at the final paragraph of the email from Planning, it is a matter of public record that the two other ward councillors, both Labour (Cathie McEwing and Lee Whitbread), have done absolutely nothing to support or object to this planning application.
Neither have any of the other candidates in the Redbridge local elections.
Over years, Southampton Independents has stood up for our parks and for local residents. All the while, the Labour Council has sought to take away park land - at Green Park, at Mansel Park and at Redbridge Wharf Park.
We will continue to look after local residents, to protect our parks and green spaces, and we will try to work with all local sports clubs and residents in a constructive dialogue with trust."
Councillor Andrew Pope
* For reasons unknown to me, although I have raised it with him before, Mr McManus uses the email of the Residents Association for Bush Hill FC business, or the Saints Pub address for the planning application. This would suggest a potential conflict of interest between the three interests. Perhaps he can explain how he manages this conflicts of interests, to the Residents Association that he chairs.