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Protesters want moor car park plan inquiry

reposter - PETER Lazenby | 08.05.2006 19:12 | Ecology | Free Spaces | Social Struggles

Today's Yokshire Evening Post has a story about Leeds City Council's latest 'con-sultation' fraud - this time on the totally bonkers idea of building a car park on Woodhouse Moor using a 'Parks Renaissance fund'.

8 May

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for a Government investigation into Leeds City Council's handling of plans for a car park on one of Leeds's most popular inner-city moors.

The campaigners have obtained council documents which they claim declare local community groups to be in support of the plan for part of Woodhouse Moor - whereas six local groups have actually joined forces in opposition.

The documents also say that a public consultation exercise was completed by early January - but the opponents say that the first local people knew of the plan was when an article appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Tuesday March 14.

Now the campaigners are calling on the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate.

The council wants to build the car park on part of Woodhouse Moor known as Monument Moor at a cost of £170,000.
Six community organisations from Headingley, Little Woodhouse and Hyde Park have united to form "The Friends of Woodhouse Moor" to oppose the plan.

They have obtained a council document dated January 9, 2006, which states: "Partners in the project include the local ward Councillors and community/ friends groups."

It also states: "Consultation with local residents and ward members is complete."

The document is a report from the council's Director of Learning and Leisure, Denise Preston, to the Director of Corporate Services, Alan Gay, requesting funding of £170,341 for the project. The request was granted.

Sue Buckle, of South Headingley Community Association, one of the groups opposing the plan, said: "When we saw this report, we were gobsmacked. It is dated January 9 and says not only that local consultations have been completed, but that local groups are actual partners in the project. This is blatantly not true.

"The first we knew about the plan was when we read about it in the Yorkshire Evening Post on March 14. We are certainly not partners in the project - in fact when we found out, our group became one of the local community groups who formed the Friends of Woodhouse Moor group to oppose it."

By the time the community groups learned of the proposal, planning permission for the car park had already been granted, and the council had drawn up a proposed timetable to seek tenders for the work on April 6, accept one by May 6, start work on the site on August 6 and complete the car park by December 6.

The "Friends" group is referring the case to the Local Government Ombudsman through Kirkstall Labour Councillor Bernard Atha, who offered to help.

The Ombudsman independently investigates complaints against councils to ensure proper procedure has been followed.

Following protests from local community groups, the council organised two consultation exercises. One was held on April 27 and the second takes place at Woodhouse Community Centre from 5pm to 8pm tomorrow.

Community groups opposing the car park are Belle View Road Action Group, South Headingley Community Association, North Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association, Woodhouse Tenants' Association and Marlborough Residents' Association.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: "No decision has been made about a car park at Woodhouse Moor and the council is currently holding a consultation exercise to find out local people's opinions about the idea.

"One public meeting has already taken place and the next will be held on May 9 at Woodhouse Community Centre from 5pm to 8pm, to which all local people are invited to attend and make their views known.

"The report in question was intended to make funding available for any such project, not to say that it is taking place.

"The consultation it refers to is a city-wide survey carried out last year that showed large support for more parking in the local area.

"We would stress that no decision has been made and we are ensuring that everyone's opinion is heard."

Councillor John Proctor, executive board member for Leisure, said: "I am more than happy to meet with this community group and hear their grievances in this matter."

reposter - PETER Lazenby


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  1. Public meeting Tuesday night! — commoner