Town poll called for on MPF skatepark

People file out of Springwells after the meeting was adjourned to a new venue
People file out of Springwells after the meeting was adjourned to a new venue

RESIDENTS turned out in force for a Steyning parish meeting, called by residents.

Friends of Memorial Playing Field (FoMPF) and others who say they want to protect the town’s ‘jewel in the crown’ were among those gathered in Springwells, in High Street, on Thursday, September 19.

Supporters of Steyning Parish Council’s skatepark stood in protest outside the hotel, holding a banner marked ‘MPF skate park’.

A motion proposing a poll on the council’s plans to build a skatepark on the MPF was agreed.

But letters have been sent to Horsham District Council, from both the skatepark supporters group and the parish council, suggesting the meeting could be invalid.

A spokesman for Horsham said the council would not be able to comment until all the issues had been considered.

One complaint was over the venue, which was too small. The meeting was opened at Springwells and adjourned, but the new venue, the front garden of a house in Newham Lane, was not announced until then.

Lynn Atherly, who was elected chairman, said: “We wanted to go ahead with the meeting as it had been advertised. It was hard to judge how many people were going to come.

“It was necessary to set up the meeting at the new venue but start the meeting at the old venue.”

Ruth Comber, one of the six who called the meeting, said: “This referendum should have been done two years ago. Now is the time. We need to end this division in our community asap.

“The actual design the council comes up with is irrelevant and we need to show that no skatepark on the MPF is acceptable to residents.”

In a statement issued after the meeting, FoMPF said 108 residents attended the meeting and 107 agreed the motion, with one absention.

Mike Kelly, one of the skatepark supporters outside Springwells, said he felt a meeting in the garden of an FoMPF supporter should not be accepted as valid.

“Anyone who was not of their persuasion would have been intimadated by that venue,” he added.

“I have asked the council to write to every Steyning resident explaining what has been going on for over two years.”

Steyning Parish Council chairman Phil Bowell has issued a statement, which will go out in full in the form of a flyer with Your Steyning.

He said: “As you know, Steyning does not have many open spaces suitable for a skateboard facility but the council went through a robust process of analysis on different sites around the town.”

The statement continues: “Just to be clear, unless the full council decide against it following the town poll, the council WILL go ahead with its planning application for its proposed site in the MPF – we expect this to be in November.

“The youth of the town have been waiting for a skateboard facility in the town for a long time and I hope that the town will support the council in ensuring that the facility is sited in the best place.”