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People Power saves Heaton Park!

April 4, 2016 8:50 PM

Thank you to the almost 1400 people who signed our petition to stop the private rope course in Heaton Park. It was our strongest petition response ever!

You may have heard that this afternoon (4th April) the petition has jolted the Council into withdrawing from the discussions with the company concerned.

The Council has also acknowledged that they should not have refused our request for a public consultation. If they had been more open with the public on the plans, there would not have been such concern.

It has been heartwarming to hear from so many people who cherish Heaton Park as part of their lives.

The petition is now closed. Thank you again for supporting this important cause.


Stephen Howse and the Ouseburn Ward Lib Dem Team

The Newcastle Liberal Democrats Group issued the following statement on 5th April

Newcastle Liberal Democrat Group
Statement on Heaton Park - 10 Questions for the Council
It is important that local residents and park users in the Heaton and Ouseburn area are made aware that the council has held discussions over several months with the promoters of an outdoor "high ropes" treetop adventure playground visitor attraction in Heaton Park. This has been confirmed to us by a senior council officer.

The statement from the promoters confirms that they are considering creating a potential adventure course at Heaton Park, validating the concerns of the more than 1400 people who signed our petition.

We believe it is important that candidates standing in the local elections make their position on this issue clear, and we have duly brought this issue to the attention of the public. It is clearly a matter of significant local concern. We have ensured that the local community has been kept informed and have led a campaign against this threat to a cherished public space.

The statement by Cllr David Stockdale, Labour cabinet member for parks and leisure, raises more questions than it answers. Having previously suggested this proposal was a Lib Dem "invention", he now seeks to give the impression that the development will not happen whilst the current Labour administration is in power.

We are aware (and have evidence to substantiate) that discussions about the development proposal have been held between council Leisure Services officers and the promoters, and between Leisure Services officers and councillors.
As Cllr Stockdale is not prepared to give a full, transparent, and accurate version of events, we call upon the city council to answer the following questions:

1 When did the city council become aware of the promoter's interest in Heaton Park?
2 Will the city council confirm dates of meetings with the promoters and disclose any meeting notes?
3 Will the city council clarify whether it has held pre-application planning discussions with the promoters. If so, what advice was given and was there a charge for this? If so, how much?
4 Will the city council confirm that discussions included the potential for an arrangement which would financially benefit the council in respect of park maintenance?
5 Will the city council confirm whether members of the city council's Labour administration were made aware of the proposals. If so, which and when? If not, why not?
6 Will the city council confirm that it sought informal views from councillors about the acceptability of the proposal on a confidential basis? If so, which councillors?
7 Will the city council clarify whether a planning application has been submitted, as Cllr Stockdale has suggested. If it has not, has any timetable been indicated?
8 Will the city council confirm that planning law precludes the council administration from pre-determining any planning application, and that Cllr Stockdale's statement risks leaving the council open to legal challenge?
9 Will the city council confirm that Cllr Kane's request for public consultation on this proposal was declined, and that Cllr Kane has now been informed that this should not have happened?
10 Will the city council confirm when the political decision to suspend consideration of the proposal was taken?

We would like to make it clear that we bear the promoters no ill-will. Although we do not consider Heaton Park is an appropriate location for this attraction, we are not opposed in principle to development on a suitable site. Other locations in the city may offer possibilities if due provision is made for public consultation and if relevant planning considerations including parking, traffic, ecology, and conservation are fully addressed.