'Undemocratic' skate park decision complaintBy Nick Edmondson
November 20, 2012
COUNCILLORS in Rushmoor have been accused of being undemocratic after approving the building of a new skate park in Aldershot.
The criticism follows a meeting of Rushmoor Borough Council’s development control committee, which saw loud protests made by residents against the development.
During the meeting on November 7, councillors granted planning permission to the council’s own application to build a new skate facility on Manor Park.
However residents of Eggars Court came out in force against the plans, criticising the council for ignoring their concerns and making a decision seven days before the consultation on the plans was due to close.
Chris Myles, who was nominated as a spokesman for the residents in the area, attempted to raise a point of order at the start of the meeting, claiming the council was ignoring the views of the public.
He said: “I don’t see how this committee could consider making a decision when the consultation has not even completed. It’s just undemocratic.”
Council representatives explained that the committee’s decision at the meeting was not final, with the responsibility delegated to chairman Cllr Alan Jackman to decide whether points are raised following the meeting that raise sufficient new concerns to prompt another discussion.
Mr Myles said the decision allowed the council to rush through its own application while ignoring the concerns of residents, regardless how many of them complain.
The application is the third made by the council to replace the skate park that was demolished at the south side of the park and saw repeated clashes between youngsters and the residents of Campbell Fields.
Mr Myles said that the skate park would ruin the quality of life for Eggars Close residents, who will suffer increased noise and antisocial behaviour.
He told the meeting: “We are not actually saying that we don’t think that there should be a skate park. This is the wrong site.”
John Thorne, the council’s head of development, said: “A lot of the issues that have been raised are management issues and concerns that the council can look at quite separately from this application.”
Councillor Sue Dibble said: “I do feel that this is the right place for a skate park.
“This is a facility that is used by a lot of young people. It is a shame that it can’t be situated elsewhere.”
Cllr Marsh said: “This just goes to show that we can’t win. We are criticised for lacking this facility for young people and then when we build it we have problems.
“I get annoyed when people say they are being ignored. They are not being ignored, the committee just might not agree with them.”
Councillors agreed that permission would only be granted if CCTV was up and running on the site before it was opened and if flood lighting was turned off by 9pm.
Mr Myles has made a formal complaint to the council’s chief executive, Andrew Lloyd. Speaking after the meeting he said the decision was "a disgrace" and argued that the skate park could be placed on its former site.