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Cupid Green Fields saved - with Cabinet still short of a strategy

October 13, 2018 12:15 PM

Dacorum Athletics TrackCabinet is set to withdraw proposals to move the Jarman Athletics track to Cupid Green fields, after a consultation report showing deep and reasoned objections was championed by LibDem Councillors Adrian England and Lara Pringle, at wednesday's "Oversight & Scrutiny Committee" meeting, at The Forum.

The question of the proposal to build a replacement Athletics track at Cupid Green Fields, a Cabinet project which had been put out for public consultation during the summer, was bound up with the Conservatives' missing strategy for Sports and Activity in the borough.

Cllr Adrian England said that the response to the consultation on Cupid Green fields was overwhelmingly against and it should be abandoned.

"The message of this consultation is a resounding Don't Do This. I isn't nearly 50/50, it is 7 to 1 against. The Consultation format sought to exclude Jarman Park from consideration, but 25% of respondents brought it up unprompted and want the track to stay there!"

Cllr England summed-up: "This is the second biggest decision in local sport infrastructure and like the financially-motivated decision to dump the community-centred Not For Profit Sportspace it has been done cart-before-horse without a coherent strategy."

Andrew Williams eventually made an exceptional statement that while he could not speak for the rest of his Cabinet, given the strength of opposition he and Councillor Harden would recommend to Cabinet that the Cupid Green proposal be discontinued.

UPROAR OVER TIED VOTE ON INCOMPLETE "STRATEGY"

There was public dissent earlier at the DBC scrutiny meeting, over the so-called Sports Strategy, when the Chairman used his vote to block a Liberal Democrat Motion calling for the latest draft of the Strategy to be sent back to the drawing board - for a THIRD draft - and then used an additional CASTING vote to push through, what senior officers openly admittedly was an incomplete document, against cross-party objections.

To widespread public astonishment the Chairman chose to use his casting vote to progress a woefully inadequate "Strategy" document to Cabinet. Cllr England raised a Point of Order that the Chair ought not to use their casting vote to make an irredeemable decision - it would be better to send the report back. This was overruled and the public began a slow handclap, while several people looked up the Constitution!

After some minutes order was restored and Cllr Andrew Williams, Leader of Council said that these issues were to be addressed at Cabinet on 16th October, including an urgent update from Linda Roberts on the Scrutiny comments received in June which had not been addressed in the second attempt.

In the earlier debate Cllr England laid bare the central deceit in the document: "There are no numbers - EXCEPT where the Council has set itself a 'goal' for increasing the number of active people. If you look at the current rate of population increase we can expect here in Dacorum, setting a goal of having 2,000 more active people can be expected to be achieved from trend growth in the population - regardless of their level of activity.

Effectively the Council can JUST BUILD HOUSING and rely on this - not the sports strategy - to deliver their number!"

"In June Councillors on all sides asked for "meat on the bones", but we have gone backwards - this document is a random collection of bones which does not resemble any believable creature capable of survival. The only progress was that Cllr Harden has, in writing his Foreword, taken ownership of this strategy."