A public meeting has been called to discuss proposals for a major new play park on the Jubilee Green at Savages Wood Road, following complaints that there has been insufficient public consultation over the project.
News of the project first surfaced back in February, with the Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) newsletter announcing the award of £55,00 for a “Beacon Park” at the Jubilee Green.
Nothing more was heard, despite numerous unanswered requests for information from this publication, until a meeting of the Bradley Stoke Safer & Stronger Community Group (SSCG) on 30th September, where “draft design plans” were displayed and a presentation given by play advisor Michael Follett and landscape architect Alison Brown of South Gloucestershire Council (SGC). That meeting was told that public consultation would be achieved through a “focus group” rather that the formal website-based procedure that has recently become the norm for even minor SGC projects.
Weeks of silence then followed until the project was mentioned at a meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) on 19th November, when the Town Clerk announced that a set of documents concerning the play park proposals had been received “that day” from SGC. Papers circulated to the public at that meeting have not since been made available online by either of the Councils, so we are happy to reproduce them here:
- Covering letter outlining the proposals [PDF, 47k]
- Overall plan of the Jubilee Green [JPG, 866k]
- Detailed plan of the play park area [JPG, 1.6M]
SGC Councillor Sarah Pomfret told the BSTC meeting that tenders for the project would be going out at the end of November and the aim was to have the play park completed by Easter 2009.
An ideal opportunity to bring the play park plans to a wider audience was sadly lost when the eight-page December 2008 issue of BSTC’s newsletter, distributed to all homes in the town, contained just a single paragraph on the topic, with the promise that “public consultation on the architect’s proposals will take place shortly”.
A meeting of the Bradley Stoke SSCG on 9th December again heard from SGC’s Alison Brown, who disclosed that “consultation had been undertaken with the youth club and local children” and confirmed the target date of Easter 2009. However, a dissatisfied neighbour of the Jubilee Green complained that no consultation with residents had taken place. Astonishingly, the chairperson of the meeting, Julie Snelling (Southern Brooks Community Partnership), replied that because this issue had been raised at the previous SSCG meeting (in September), she believed this counted as a consultation. Alison Brown then offered her apologies for the lack of residents’ consultation.
BSTC and SGC Councillor Jon Williams (LibDem) however sees Robert Jones, Conservative Leader of Bradley Stoke Town Council (and also an SGC Councillor), as responsible for the lack of public consultation. A press release put out by Councillor Williams reads:
At the beginning of the consultation process some three months ago, local residents living by the green requested a meeting to discuss their concerns and were given assurances by the Conservative run council that a meeting would take place. Now, with arrangements being made to send out tenders for the work, local residents are accusing Councillor Jones of failing to keep his promise. Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Williams said “This is yet another example of the Conservatives making decisions without consulting with the people that are affected. I am staggered that the Leader of the Town Council can make a promise to residents and then snub them by not making arrangements for them to share their concerns. The Conservatives are obviously not interested in the views of residents if they think it may interfere with their plans. The proposals for the green will impact on local residents and they deserve an opportunity to have their concerns aired.”
Bradley Stoke Town Council and South Gloucestershire Council are now inviting all residents of Bradley Stoke to attend an “open evening” on Wednesday 7th January 2009 at which the plans for the Jubilee Green play area will be exhibited. The poster advertising the meeting, which appeared last week, calls on adults and children to “get involved with designing and building the playground” and encourages residents to “come along with ideas”.
The meeting takes place at the Jubilee Centre, Savages Wood Road, from 7:45pm to 9pm.
The Journal Comments
Residents of Bradley Stoke are right to feel let down by the lack of information and consultation on this major project. We see no reason why SGC shouldn’t have been able to publish plans online, thereby bringing the project to a much wider audience. Claims that presenting the plans to a meeting of about 50 people (in a town of 20,000 inhabitants) counts as consultation are, quite frankly, ridiculous. BSTC, while not directly to blame, should have made better use of its newsletter and website to publicise the limited information made available by SGC.
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