Land sold off amid residents’ dismay

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting the sell-off of open land by the council have scored a bittersweet victory.

More than 200 people signed a petition against the proposal to dispose of a 2,915 sq m piece of land next to 123 Ghyllside Avenue.

And more than 60 angry people made their feelings clear at a recent meeting over the council’s plans.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, September 5, councillors voted to drop the proposals with regard to the strip of land, but, much to the dismay of residents, decided to dispose of land adjoining 115 Ghyllside Avenue and a strip of green space off Parkstone Road, once tree preservation orders have been put in place.

Councillor Eve Martin, who represents Conquest ward, tried to convince the council’s cabinet committee to drop its plans but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

She said: “The land over the road from 123 Ghyllside Avenue is closely related to the piece adjoining 115 Ghyllside Avenue.

“Both pieces of land have mature trees and grass, are publicly accessible, indeed they are the only such green spaces in Conquest ward.

“The officer’s reports describes the land as ‘too small to be used as a viable piece of open space’. But this is not the case.

“It is also not the case that small plots of land with only trees, bushes and grass on them have no amenity value. They are places for children to play in safety with their friends, for families to enjoy themselves, learn about nature, and they harbour wildlife.”

Ivor Steggall, who spoke on behalf of residents from the area, said the land was used every day by children walking to school, people on their way to work, as well as dog walkers.

The council is disposing of land it owns amid its ongoing efforts to rein in on its spending due to the dramatic cuts in Government funding.

But it has allowed the St Helens Wood Preservation Society to buy land south of 77 St Helens Park Road and land at the junction of Hillside Road and St Helens Avenue.