Update No 13 October 2020

Posted on: Sun Oct 11 by Tom Barlow

1 Council Meeting 30th Sept 2020

Agenda Item 5 – Call-In Referral to Full Council

“To consider the referral to Council by the Tourism, Economy and Communities Scrutiny Committee of the Executive Decision EX29/2020 ‘Proposed appropriation and disposal of open space land at Stanley Park Golf Course, Blackpool”

https://www.blackpool.gov.uk/Your-Council/Council-meetings/Webcast.aspx

(Use the red bar at the bottom to move the meeting on to 2hrs 11min when this item starts)

Those of you who watched the live streaming of the meeting or have seen the result in the news reports or on social media will know that the voting went along party lines.

https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/politics/councillors-vote-future-blackpools-stanley-park-golf-course-2989354

Councillor Tony William’s (Con) motion to have the appropriation set aside was voted down by 17 votes to 13. Another motion was proposed by Cllr Lynne Williams (Lab) to take no further action, and to continue with the appropriation, the vote was taken and resulted in 13 against 17 for, and as such was passed.

Although this was not the outcome, we would have wished, we have delayed and disrupted the process, and for a time given the management team and the Labour Group something to think about.

More disappointing than the result, was the failure of the debate to raise any new issues, it was a rather like watching a rerun of the original meeting back in September 2019, when they ignored the petition to relocate this development.

Despite all your emails and letters, and the insightful and impassioned pleas from both Christine Parker, and Elizabeth Gomm, to save this green space, the Labour Group steadfastly ignored debate around those issues raised by residents and campaigners.

There was no mention of the changes that Covid 19 has inflicted on the nation/world.

  • Significant widespread job losses.
  • Unemployment set to spiral.
  • Declining Incomes for those still in work.
  • Country wide recession and shrinking economy.
  • Loss of investment in the leisure industry.
  • Restricted social interaction.
  • The demand for more open space during lockdown restrictions.

All these Covid 19 outcomes have a direct correlation to any future investment in, and operational success for this type of development, both short and long term.

2. What Happens Next

The fight moves on to the planning process, this is a more formal process and Cllr Lynne Williams (Lab) stated in the meeting that the contractor needs to meet all the criteria that is required to ensure the environmental, traffic management and other planning matters are met in full, otherwise the development will not go ahead.

We need to hold her to her word, that is if she and other Labour Councillors are voted back in at the next council elections on the first Thursday in May 2023!

Now that sounds like a long way off but there is a long, winding, and expensive road ahead for the developer before this development gets anywhere near to breaking ground on site.

Which also means we too have a long fight ahead of us, and the Council will be hoping that our resolve diminishes during this period, where on the surface it appears little is happening, but where in fact the developers are carefully setting out their plans for this site.

We also need to be aware of the warning made by several of the Councillors opposed to this development that the there is a significant risk that even if the Council turn down any proposed application, if taken to appeal the decision will be taken out of their hands, a situation Blackpool Council is all too familiar with having lost two appeals in recent years.

Throughout this period, we need to ramp up the visibility of our campaign and increase the numbers of those who want to see this land remain as green open space.

Ask your relatives friends neighbours workmates to sign up to the website

Or visit the Facebook page.

Please circulate via your own social media, by text or messenger.

It is important we have more Blackpool Residents signing up to the campaign, as this carries more weight with the Council, when objections come from those who pay their council tax to Blackpool!

3. Planning Applications

Friends of the Earth have guidance on how the planning system works and how to campaign effectively within the planning process.

We are taking advice and guidance not just from this source but from several informed groups and individuals and will keep you informed as each step of the process unfolds.

The planning committee who will oversee this process is made up of the following councillors.

CouncillorPartyWard
Councillor David Owen  (Chairman) LabVictoria
Councillor Graham BakerConStanley
Councillor Debbie ColemanIndMarton
Councillor Jo FarrellLabIngthorpe
Councillor Jane HugoLabTalbot
Councillor Fred JacksonLabVictoria
Councillor David O’Hara    LabWaterloo
Councillor Derek Robertson BEM    ConWaterloo
Councillor Andrew Stansfield    ConMarton

4. The Effects of COVID 19

This is not about the symptoms of Covid, but is about how the restrictions currently affect our ability to protest on this issue?

In effect we cannot: –

  • Meet indoors or out as a group of more than six.
  • Attend Councillors Surgeries.
  • Protest outside of public buildings in numbers greater than six.
  • Put up posters or banners which are left un-attended.

We can though collectively and individually: –

  • Continue to use social media
  • Write to the local papers
  • Write to the Labour Party Groups
  • Keep in contact with our local MP’s
  • Keep contacting the Labour Councillors (It really annoys them)

Direct Action

However, we are grateful to Stuart Sykes from the Windmill Youth Development Group, who related the story of a protest going back some 25 years, when Blackpool Council had plans to build on the playing fields within Stanley Park.

The protest took the form of a human chain which stretched right around Stanley Park, this put the issue in full focus, for residents and the media.

Stanley Park is around 3.56 kilometres (3,560 metres) so this would mean that around 3,560 joined hands to make their point. Impressive!

Blackpool Council found the pressure became so great that they abandoned their development plans.

Something to consider?

Today with Covid 19 and social distancing at 2m here is an option for similar smaller scale direct action which you may wish to consider?

East Park Drive from Lawsons Road to North Park Drive is just over 1.08 kilometres, so just 540 people could line this route.

As an activity it need not take up too much of anyone’s day, perhaps an hour at most, it is also an activity that can be safely repeated once the communication links are established between our guardians.

With banners and placards on any selected day we could make our presence felt and bring this to the attention of local television and media.

Now with around 360 active guardians, if each guardian brought along their significant other, a friend, or conscript, with full participation, we could start by trying a protest on East Park Drive – Lawson Rd.

We would need to consult with Lancashire Constabulary, as we have no wish to cause any issues which would require their presence, and therefore cost to the tax payer, at the same time ensuring we comply with the law of the land and Covid Rules at the time.

Saturday or Sundays would be most effective days, although traffic is often heavier on a weekday, but the nights are drawing in!

A drive by video recording of the protest can then be sent to the local media for inclusion on their own Facebook, internet pages?

If successful repeat protests could be scheduled in, but timing will be important, and this will depend on when any planning application is submitted to the Council.

We need to gauge your response to such direct action, and we are trying to work out the best way to set up the communication links that will be required to manage an operation of this nature, if anyone out there has any suggestions please send your ideas through by email or in the comments section of the website.

  • A protest section on the website that requires sign up.
  • A WhatsApp Group
  • A Facebook Group
  • A Flash Mob Mobile Group

Update Ends