Officers at Bradley Stoke Town Council have been asked to produce a detailed report on possible future uses for the hard court area at the Brook Way Activity Centre after Mayor Brian Hopkinson failed to gain support for a proposal to allow a local charity to build on the land.
An innocuous-sounding item on the agenda for last month’s Full Council meeting titled ‘Release of Hard-court at Brook Way Activity Centre for shared-use Youth Facilities’ turned out to be an attempt by the mayor to rush through a proposal to partition the currently unused sports facility into two building plots, with one plot be given over to the Incredible Kids charity and the other to a yet-to-be-formed body called ‘The Bradley Stoke Youth Trust’.
Discussion of the item was preceded by a presentation from representatives of Incredible Kids, a group that aims to provide a safe place where children with special needs can play together with their siblings, giving parents and carers the chance to meet with others in a similar situation whilst having a short break. The charity currently meets at Christ the King Church but says it needs a dedicated building with space to store equipment.
Following the presentation, Cllr Hopkinson, who had invited the charity to attend the meeting, circulated a half-page written proposal, which foresaw Incredible Kids being given an 85 year lease on the land and being allowed up to three years and three months to find funding and construct a building. He urged councillors to make a decision in favour of his proposal: “Tonight, rather than allowing it to drag on over a number of months or years.”
Resistance to the mayor’s request came from Cllr Rob Jones, who agreed that Incredible Kids is a “good cause” but warned that the council shouldn’t get carried away with disposing of what is an asset belonging to the town, adding: “We should take care to consider other organisations that might be interested. We have one organisation here tonight but we need to consult a wider cross-section of the community.”
Cllr Ben Walker also voiced concern, saying it would be great to look at the idea “as a concept” but making a decision at the current time would be “really dangerous” and “lacking in transparency”.
Another councillor, Tony Griffiths, asked whether it might be better to build an extension onto the existing council building at Brook Way, leaving the hard court area free to be used for an expansion of the car park.
Following much discussion, Cllr Hopkinson’s proposal failed to find a seconder and it was eventually agreed that “a full report be compiled and brought to the next Full Council meeting looking at possible future use of the hard-court at Brook Way Activity Centre (including legal issues and costings on all possible proposals)”.
Prior to the final vote, which was passed 10:0:1, councillors agreed by a narrow margin to exclude use of the area for “ball games and noisy sports” from any investigations. This follows complaints from neighbours about noise and light pollution when the hard courts were last in use two years ago. At that time, the facility suffered two incidents of vandalism in which a power cable was severed and a floodlight column sawn through.
This article originally appeared in the October edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to all homes in Bradley Stoke.
Photo: Sawn-through floodlight column at the hard court in May 2011.
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