Marginal win in Steyning parish poll shows ‘deep split’

S49759H13''Skateboard Park Petition at the Steyning Centre on Monday. Phil Bowell receives the petiton
S49759H13''Skateboard Park Petition at the Steyning Centre on Monday. Phil Bowell receives the petiton

A parish poll has revealed how divided Steyning is on the skate park issue - with a slim majority in favour of the facility.

The vote, held on Wednesday (November 27), revealed 53.7 per cent in support of building a skate park on the Memorial Playing Field.

Local government electors in the parish were asked: ‘Do you want Steyning Parish Council to provide a skate park in the Memorial Playing Field, incorporating the existing asphalt strip, located near the Rublees Allotments boundary?’

The results were: 816 voters said ‘yes’ at 53.7 per cent, and 703 votes said ‘no’ at 46.3 per cent - a difference of 113 votes.

Speaking on behalf of Steyning Parish Council, Chairman Phil Bowell criticised the content of a Friends of the Memorial Playing Field’s (FoMPF) poll flyer, which he said included claims that the council was ‘burning money’.

Mr Bowell said: “We have a great group of youngsters in Steyning and they deserve the best we can give them.

“The council chose the Memorial Playing Field because there would be minimal cost to the council tax payers as we own the land, and maintenance would mostly be absorbed within the existing contracts.”

FoMPF opposes the skate park application and reference was made to two Judicial Reviews made against the council by Steyning resident and deputy chairman of FoMPF, Paul Campbell, which have both been overruled.

“The council have acted responsibly throughout this process and after planning permission has been granted we will continue to consult with the town as we agreed to do to achieve a facility that the town will be proud of.”

Mr Bowell also said that the parish and Horsham District Council would be consulting with the South Downs National Park Authority.

Mr Campbell said the poll results showed a ‘deep split’ in the community.

“In the light of this almost equal division of votes which confirms our opposition mandate, we are now expecting the parish council to address the concerns which until now have been dismissed as carping from a tiny minority,” he said.

Mr Campbell also said he hoped that the claims raised by FoMPF, which include ‘appearance’, ‘noise nuisance’ and an ‘unworkable management plan’ would be looked into, and that he hoped Steyning charity ‘Wilson Memorial Trust’, which is financially assisting the project, would ‘step in and require these concerns to be addressed’.

A spokesperson for the Wilson Memorial Trust said: “It has been suggested that the Wilson Trust should seek to influence the council into changing its mind. Such action would not only be incompatible with the role of this charity, but also could be seen to be in contravention of the democratic, popular vote.”