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Is council going to build on Holbeach play area?




There are fears Holbeach could lose a play area if South Holland District Council builds homes on the site.

Holbeach Parish Council has been trying for 18 months to lease the Hall Hill Road land and has thousands in the bank to put in new equipment, including a football wall and basketball hoop.

Parish council chairman Paul Foyster, also a district councillor, believes the district authority is fobbing off the parish.

Coun Paul Foyster next to a tatty South Holland District Council sign in the children's play area. (051218-6)
Coun Paul Foyster next to a tatty South Holland District Council sign in the children's play area. (051218-6)

"It's just nonsense, absolute nonsense," he said. "It doesn't take a year-and-a-half unless they have got an agenda for something else for the site. The only reason I can think of is that it's a prime site for building more elderly people's bungalows."

He believes a dozen bungalows could go on the land.

The district council declined to give a straight "yes" or "no" when we asked if it is considering building there.

But the authority has said it is "currently exploring the potential future operational and strategic value of the site to the council and this work will be concluded by the end of February".

Coun Foyster said the district had neglected the play area and, in the summer, it removed all that was left of the play equipment - "the framework of some swings, most of a metal set of goalposts and a bouncy thing the kids sit on".

He says the "bouncy thing" was the only piece of kit in good working order.

"All that's left now is a sign saying 'this area is maintained by South Holland District Council'," he said.

The parish council has £13,000 from Section 106 money to help redevelop the play area along with more cash raised by the Friends of Holbeach Parks.

Coun Foyster asked at Wednesday's South Holland District Council meeting why it had taken so long to consider a request from the Friends of Holbeach Parks to replace the defunct play equipment.

He said: "There would have been no cost to SHDC and to try and speed up their decision making process, Holbeach Parish council had agreed to take over maintenance of the site and new equipment.

"Despite numerous exchanges of correspondence and site visits, SHDC have so far refused to provide the minimum 15 year lease needed to make the project viable or to give permission for the equipment to be installed.

"It simply can't take the council so long to deal with this issue, the officers are more efficient than that.

Coun Foyster was unhappy with an answer given at the council meeting by Coun Christine Lawton, portfolio holder for housing and health.

He said: "I don't like being metaphorically patted on the head and told to be patient or failures to explain properly the underlying considerations that must have caused the delays."

We asked the council to comment and the authority sent a copy of Coun Lawton's statement given at the council meeting.

The statement reads: "Following an approach by the parish, officers have been in discussions with Holbeach Parish Council concerning the potential for the installation of play equipment in the Hall Hill Road area of the town.

"These initial discussions have focused on matters including the potential long-term leasing of council owned land to a third party.

"Prior to making a long-term commitment concerning any council asset, such as the granting of a lease, it is standard practice for the council to give consideration to the potential short, medium and long term implications of such a decision.

"Consequently, ahead of making any long term decisions, officers within the council's strategic property team are exploring the potential future operational and strategic value of the site to the council. This work is under way and will be concluded by the end of February."



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