The public meeting held to debate the installation of a skateboard ramp in the Steyning Memorial Playing Field left many unanswered questions.
The Parish Council made an undertaking during the meeting that they would not build a facility that would breach World Health Organisation (WHO) limits on noise levels. However, their own presentation showed that even with 1,500mm high grass bunds installed around the ramp and the latest surfacing, in the evenings noise levels for nearby residents would breach WHO guidelines.
When asked whether fencing would be needed to prevent the ramp being used on summer evenings they did not reply - leaving the prospect of unsightly high fencing being installed in this visually sensitive site adjoining the National Park.
They also mentioned the creation of a footpath from Mill Lane and a drop-off parking area in Mill Lane but without showing on their plans where these would be sited and how further traffic could be accommodated in this already over-crowded, narrow street.
The council said the skateboard facility would be withdrawn if anti-social behaviour resulted without explaining how this could be done once tons of concrete have been poured onto the playing field. Although they undertook not to breach noise guidelines they did not explain how this would be monitored nor how it could be remedied if breaches do result.
The council did not reveal how much the proposal would cost in total nor had they any definite plans on how it would be funded.
It was revealed that rent of £5,000 pa was going to be charged for the alternative site opposite the Steyning Leisure Centre, presumably by landowner Sir Harry Goring who has previously been a good member of the local community. Again it was not clear why such a large sum would be charged for what the Parish kept insisting was only going to be a small site.
It was clear that many present would have preferred a site to be found in the extensive Steyning Grammar School grounds, but the council chairman David Barling said the school was ‘sovereign’ and would not be persuaded even to take part in talks about this. As part of our local community and funded by ratepayers through West Sussex County Council it was again unclear why the school is exempt from local democracy.
Finally, a representative from Steyning Football Club revealed that a huge error had taken place in 2011 when the Parish Council applied for planning permission to site the ramp on the wrong piece of land at the club.
Apparently there was ‘confusion’ about the piece of land that the club was offering. This gives no confidence in the ability of the council to manage such a sensitive project and stick to the undertakings they made so publicly.
Mrs G Muncey