Filton Council reject request to hand over park land
Filton Town council have voted almost unanimously to again reject the request from South Gloucestershire Council to handover part of Elm Park to make way for a road widening scheme.
Last month councillors and public were shocked to learn that South Gloucestershire Council had written to Filton council planning to widen the road next summer. Mark Shearman, principal engineer for transport services, wrote to Filton council, making the request saying that shrubs and trees would be lost not to mention the land required. He also said there were no funds available to purchase the land and they would like it. The council rejected the request and asked Mr Shearman to attend a future council meeting to answer questions from the councillors and public.
In a twist to the issue, it transpired this week that three Filton Town councillors had gone ahead and met with Mr Shearman in a day meeting to inspect the site. Amended plans were subsequently produced, which still included handing over of the land despite the vote to request Mr Shearman attend a public meeting.
Councillors who attended the private meeting, Adam Monk (Labour Chair of council), Darryl Collins (Labour Vice chair of council) and Brian Freeguard (Ex-Conservative councillor and now independent) produced notes saying that they had "option three to recommend to full". It was not clear what the other options were but they all included handing over the land.
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At the full council meeting, the plans were displayed for the public in attendance.
However, the views were that councillors were not in a position to negotiate the release of land in this way. Conservative councillor Rikki Teml said it was not how they had agreed to deal with the matter and the vote was to invite Mr Shearman to a full council meeting with all councillors in attendance. He also said that meetings in the working week, excluded many from being able to attend and it was not agreed.
Residents questioned the move as inappropriate. They also questioned the Labour S.Glos councillor in attendance for planning and transport, who last September reported that improvements were being planned but then admitted he was unaware of the land grab proposal.
Residents explained they were disappointed in the lack of effort from Mr Hutchinson to find out what impacts of the proposed road changes would mean, as he is Labour S.Glos spokesperson for transport and planning. Mr Hutchinson's latest report reflected a comment that it would have been helpful if planning had told him what they were doing, but many felt he needed to be proactive on the matter as a serving councillor for Filton.
When residents asked what Mr Hutchinson's position on the matter was he said he would "hate to see that ambulances could not get to the new hospital" and that he would "where he could". He had not seen any traffic data that proved any improvement to congestion post changes.
Filton Town council went on to vote almost unanimously to reject the request for a second time, with the exception of councillor Freeguard, who had been at the private meeting, who abstained. The original request for Mr Shearman to attend full council remains open.