Gedling Conservatives Fight to Save the Bowling Green

Conservative councillors for Gedling placed an amendment last week at the council’s budget meeting held on 1st March. The amendment included passing Haywood Road Bowling Green over to the community, to be run as part of Haywood Road Community Centre, and to provide £10,000 to improve access to the site as part of their alternative budget.

Labour voted against the amendment because they are still intent on pushing forward with the sale, despite it being hugely unpopular with the local community and directly contradicting Gedling’s own Local Green Space Strategy.

Below is the speech given by Mike Adams, the councillor for Woodthorpe.

Haywood Road Community Centre and Bowling Green has been a part of my history for 35 years.

I attended the playschool as it was then aged 3, my daughter attended preschool there last year and my son will be attending this year.

Recently Cllr Walker and I have been doing our best to assist the local Save the Haywood Community Centre and bowling green group with information on council process and support as it had been lacking from their own elected members. We have offered assistance wherever possible to help safeguard the site.

As a parent and a Gedling councillor this site is paramount to the areas continued community growth. I am so passionate about this space. I was incredibly happy for the residents that they had successfully lobbied Gedling Labours plan to close it for cash.

I was incredibly disappointed to hear that the bowling green had not faired as well. It is in Gedling labours plan to now sell for cash for housing and by voting against this amendment and in favour of their budget today all Labour councillors in this chamber have signed up to this. The funniest part was to then offer to sell it to them !! The reason for Gedling Borough Councils existence is its residents. So they get taxed for the council to run, then when some of there community land is wanted to be safeguarded for their own use we offer it them £350,000.

This is the last green open public space in Porchester Gardens. I saw an aerial photo of the site and its obvious its importance. To give the area some lung capacity in what is, a developed part of Gedling Borough. Living in Porchester gardens for the past 3 years and having lived in Woodthorpe for 31 years previously there is no comparison to the park offering. With Woodthorpe surrounded on all sides by green space.

I am still unsure as to why the bowlers were told some 2 years ago that the site would be closed yet the consultation into its future occurred less than 5 months ago and contacted only 80 residents.

But this is not a day to be focused on the negative aspects of the process and why we are, where we are.

This space could be an incredible place for outside cinema, for a park, for a fete, for outside events of all types. The possibilities are vast and the group at Haywood Rd have already had expert help to help develop their ideas. This is not a tin pot organisation. These guys are motivated and organised.

So what have we done about it? Well as you see today we, the Conservative group at Gedling borough council have tabled this amendment to keep the bowling green in the hands of the community and in fact spend £10,000 on opening it up to the public properly for it then to be managed by the local group.

We believe in this community, I hope the rest of the chamber do too and vote for the Conservative groups amendment and save the bowling green. Thank you.

The Gedling Conservative leader Chris Barnfather also made a speech, here it is:

Madam Mayor I started with the Gedling Country Park and again I will finish with Gedling Country Park. We on this side of the Chamber have consistently supported the creation of the Country Park and acknowledge the success of the Administration, albeit at a cost, in presiding over the creation of a valuable open green space and community resource. However where we differ from the Administration, is that we do not believe that this ‘Legacy Project’ should be at the expense of other communities and their needs, but rather supplementary to them.

At the Cabinet meeting of 2nd February 2017 Cabinet heard representations from the Porchester Area Community to save the Haywood Road Community Centre and adjacent Bowling-Green area for community use. In fairness to Cabinet and following 1456 responses to the community consultation on the proposed sale, of both the Centre and the Bowling Green, Cabinet agreed to retain the Centre and progress a community transfer of the building to a properly constituted community group, in accordance with the terms of our Community Asset Transfer Policy. We welcome and support that decision. However at the same meeting Cabinet chose to ignore the pleas of the community, to likewise safeguard the bowling green area for community use and agreed to offer the land for sale for residential development.

The Conservative Group have long supported the retention of both the Community Centre and the Bowling-Green area for community use. It is our contention that the bowling green area should be opened up moving forward, as an Open Green Space for community use and given protected status to that effect. The Porchester area is an area of high residential build density, with no other open green spaces for community use and once built upon, this area of land will be lost to the community forever.

We are aware that the Council’s medium term financial strategy is dependent on the sale of this piece of land, with an expected capital receipt of £350,000. We propose cancelling the proposed sale and redevelopment of the bowling-green, amending the capital receipt projections and capital financing requirements accordingly, and allocating £10,000 to open up the bowling-green as an open green space for the communities future access and use, under a similar agreement as that pertaining to the Community Centre.

Members must be aware that during the construction phase of the Gedling Country Park Visitor’s Centre, perhaps unsurprisingly to some, the construction team found old mining equipment and other contamination. Let me think …. it was a colliery site after all. Did this unbudgeted discovery cause the building works to be abandoned, no, the Council just coughed up an additional £200,000 to continue the work, without breaking stride. Well it seems to me and many others, that the Porchester Community are being asked to pay for that mistake, with the loss of their open green space and that frankly is not acceptable.

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