Sunday, 15 September 2013

Part 3 - Park Lane and Churchfields

In 2012 FTC adopted a play strategy.  You can read the document here. .

The opening words of the Executive Summary state:

Frodsham Town Council’s play areas are recognised as being poor, from the findings of consultants and from the views of householders and play users. This has been the situation for a number of years and their modernisation is well overdue. (The Borough Council’s recent play and recreation provisions at Castle Park and Saltworks Farm has superseded and rescued the town for play to an extent. They should not continue to mask the deficiencies on the Town Council’s sites.

However, on the positive side, the play and recreation sites owned or managed by the Town Council are of a good size and some are in good locations, complementing the CWaC sites. So even if it were possible to acquire new sites for conversion to play, this should not be necessary. It is possible to transform the Town’s offer by working with the land already held.

The aim should be to re-develop the selected sites for play over a phased programme that is short enough for progress to be seen and for the end to be in sight, ie up to 5 years. 

These words weren't written by the Town Council.  They come from Groundworks Cheshire - a well respected independent consultancy.

The whole play strategy document is nearly 100 pages long.  It includes comments on the lengthy and extensive consultation undertaken for FTC about the play areas and what people said about them.

The first site identified for improvement was Churchfields.

The first plans for Churchfields were 'art of the possible' drawings produced by Groundworks - what could be done, not what should or would be done.   They were indicative drawings.  Unfortunately individuals who either didn't understand what those drawing were - or because they just wanted to 'rouse the community' claimed that these were the formal proposals.  They weren't and never were.  They were never presented for discussion or approval to FTC let alone to be adopted.  

Yes, that's right - these plans were taken from FTC's offices and published in the community before FTC had even had a chance to consider them.  This outrageous conduct gave rise to a formal complaint that a Councillor had breached the mandatory Code of Conduct in doing what he had done.  An independent panel found that the Councillor in question had broken the Code of Conduct.

Leaving aside the unnecessary unpleasantness and needless confusion this 'stunt' produced it did spark a healthy debate with the people in and around Churchfields.  The Churchfields proposals were a significant part of the Annual Town Meeting where commitments were made to draw up further plans and embark on further consultations.  

So what are the current proposals for Churchfields? - well they've only just been drawn up and are being   circulated now.
In other words those calling the public meeting for yesterday hadn't bothered to check what the current proposals actually are.

For my part, and I'm sure for most of the councillors I will only be voting for or against any plans for Churchfields when I am clear that the community knows what is being proposed and has expressed its views on them.