At the 2nd March meeting of the cross party Overview and Scrutiny Committee, councillors considered a report from the Leader of the Council, Independent Cllr. Helen Dyke and Deputy Leader of the Council, Independent Cllr. Graham Ballinger regarding a number of localism proposals, including the long term closure of toilets at Upper Arley, the transfer of the free hold of playing pitches and public open space of Habberley Playing Fields and Brown Westhead Park for £1 and the exiting of Bewdley Leisure Centre, waving its future six figure capital receipt.
Leader of the WFDC Conservative Group Cllr. Marcus Hart who is also Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee said, “Members of the committee could not be more united in their opposition to these proposals. Back bench members of the Independent, Labour and Green led Progressive Alliance lined up with the 5 strong Conservative members to challenge these proposals. It is as if they want to simply get rid of the family silver.”
Cllr. Tracey Onslow said, “I am very concerned about the proposals for Habberley Playing Fields and Brown Westhead Park. I fully support working with community groups such as football clubs but we must ensure that the public can still have access and no assurances were given about this.”
Marcus added, “No one is against working in collaboration with community groups and charitable trusts. The potential proposals at the Bewdley School for example look very exciting and we should work with them and other partners but we must ensure the tax payer does not lose out. Likewise we should ensure that residents and the community still have access to public open space free of charge. Furthermore, in a time when we should be supporting tourism, the fact that the toilets remain closed and the Progressive Alliance will no longer fund them and in fact want to bulldoze them is nothing short of a disgrace.”
Marcus said, “After a very full debate, the 12 strong committee voted 11 in favour of rejecting these proposals with 1 abstention.”