Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ashfield Village Green Public Hearing

In 2012, I put in a Village Green application in to register Ashfield Park/Playing Field as a Village Green. Once the Village Green application went in the process takes over, which in turns means the it goes quiet. Many people presumed that meant that we had won the fight to register Ashfield as a Village Green and there would no be no houses on built on there.

Whilst things have been quiet to the public I can assure you that a lot has been going on. The first thing that I needed to do was gather up all the witness statements that people kindly filled in. This was a case of scanning and printing the Witness Statements and then submitting the hundreds into the Council has evidence. These went into the Council into three bundles. Those that have not submitted a witness statement but would like to have a small window of opportunity to fill one in and return it. I have put a link at the bottom of this post to print out.

Once the bundles went in the Council I believe that they knew that the support was of such a a size and the evidence in the witness statement was so strong that they went and hire outside solicitors and/ or barrister who specialise in this area of expertise. I believe that the bill for this specialised work has cost over £50,000 , which shows the level of feeling that the Council wants to stop this application for a Village Green.

The first thing the Council tried was to write to the inspector asking him to through out my application because in their opinion it failed to meet the criteria. This was because the crucial issue on a Village Green is did we get permission to use it when we used the playing fields or did the Council give us permission. In their eyes years ago they moved the budget for the fields from the education pot to the recreational pot and on that grounds the Council believe that was them giving us permission.

Also out of the advice that the Council received was to try and get a behind closed doors hearing to try and resolve this application. The Council said that if they won that "behind the closed door" hearing, as I call it, then that way there would not be a need for the public hearing. The Council have tried to stop the public hearing because when that goes ahead then the public will not hear the truth, the public will not have a voice and most of all the public does not get their say. And on this matter the residents of Standish needs their say and it will be heard.

As part of the process the Council, as the objector to the Village Green Hearing, had to ask for my opinion on the "behind closed door" hearing. Their thinking behind this idea was it would save money because there would be no need for a public hearing and also witness's would not need to go through the process. As part of my objection I said this was out of the ordinary and would not save money if we won because we would then need a public hearing the witness's evidence would be needed to decide if the application stands or falls

The inspector that is overseeing this application has now returned his opinion and direction and that is that there will be a public hearing. There will not be a pre hearing like the Council had asked for and it will be determined in the usual way of a one stage public hearing.

Now comes some serious hard work in preparing for the public hearing. With bundles made up and prepared, opening and closing statements drafted and redrafted. I will be calling a public hearing to update residents. Keep watching.

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