Tuesday, 23 July, 2019 10:41:43 AM
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EDITORIAL: Why I resigned from the Milton Road sports and community facilities project
Published: 23/11/2018 11:15 AM
I voted “yes” in the Parish Poll of 2017. I believed then, and still believe now, that the Parish Council owned field behind Henge Close on the Milton Road is best used to deliver new modern sports and community facilities for the whole of our community. When the “yes” vote won the Parish Poll, I, together with a group of like-minded, community spirited, individuals, opted to give what little spare time I have to volunteer to help create these facilities.
We were keen, positive and driven. Working For Adderbury Community (WFAC) was born and I made the mistake of missing an early meeting – and was elected Chairman! As an informal group we approached the Parish Council and volunteered to help. Some of our members were worried about working with Adderbury Parish Council as the division and in-fighting within it’s membership was known widely, but we hoped as a separate organisation we could operate with integrity at a distance. WFAC had from it’s early days wanted to operate with openness and transparency, respect and free from political lobbying.
We set up an agreement with the Parish Council and WFAC became official at it’s first AGM. As part of our agreement with the Parish Council three Councillors (Martin Rye, Chris Shallis and Keith Mitchell) accepted our terms of membership and became trustees. WFAC members elected Jackie Head, Kate Gibbins, Pam Haynes and I to the remaining four trustee positions. We began to research what the village wanted on the site and also at the Lucy Plackett field. We were keen to ensure the site was of benefit to all, young and old, male and female, for those wanting activities inside and out. It was not all about male adult football as some wanted you to believe.
So what went wrong for me? I spent much of my time as Chairman trying to address the concerns of other WFAC Members who were worried as to the effect our project may have on others in the local area. We knew some people living close to the scheme would always be against it, but we were keen to demonstrate to them that we had done all we could to mitigate their concerns. However my feeling was that the Parish Council’s approach to these matters was far more focussed on simply doing the minimum required within the legal framework: Adderbury Parish Council could certainly do with lessons in public relations! My desire to ensure WFAC members’ concerns were addressed led me into direct conflict with the Chairman of Adderbury Parish Council and ultimately was one of the key reasons I resigned as WFAC Chairman.
The final straw for me came this week over the proposed layout for the Milton Road field. WFAC members had created and agreed a vision for the site which you may have read about here. At the same time the Parish Council created a layout which they submitted with their planning application. The two do not match but as appears to happen often in political circles these days because the people didn’t agree with those in charge the people were asked to vote again. I was unable to attend this Wednesday’s WFAC meeting but the previous decision was reversed so the Parish Council plan is now being supported.
So I have resigned from WFAC as I don’t believe the plan now being taken forward is in the best interests of the wider village community. You can read my full reasoning in the resignation statement I sent to the current WFAC Chairman, members and Parish Councillors.
This is a difficult week for WFAC and the Parish Council; I believe two more WFAC members (including a trustee) have also resigned this week for their own reasons. On Tuesday I suspect the Parish Council will be asked to approve moving forward with work on the Milton Road site now “WFAC members are supporting the Parish Council layout”. I hope Councillors will carefully consider how they vote and only support any proposal that benefits the whole of our community.
And for those remaining in WFAC I do wish them well in taking the project forward as I know they are good people who went into this with positivity and a desire to create something for the benefit of all in our village.
(c) Adderbury News 2019