As widely predicted, Somerset County Council has rejected the application for town green status for the Brewery Field. This was the position as recommended by the inspector who looked at the case at a hearing in Bridgwater earlier this year.
Bridgwater Labour councillor Ian Tucker, who attended the meeting, said, “The application was basically rejected on a technicality due to an order by SDC in the 90’s to prevent dog fouling.”
Bye law technicality unticks campaigners boxes
Westover resident, Tricia Walsh, one of the two applicants and Bridgwater Forward member summed up the meeting, “As you will see from the notice sent today at 4.15pm the application to register the Brewery Field as a town green was rejected. It was a byelaw about dog fouling, simultaneously applied to several green spaces in Bridgwater, Highbridge & Burnham in 1994 that was considered as the only absolute proof of Sedgemoor’s governance of the Brewery Field and thereby allowing the public to use it ‘by right’ i.e. with implied permission rather than ‘as of right’. The end the verdict was a very close run affair. The Inspector’s work was thoroughly carried out with further applicant’s maps accepted as proof of the Brewery Field’s ‘Northgate and Docks neighborhood being within the locality of the Town of Bridgwater whose boundaries have remained constant for the qualifying 20 year period. This has been a long, complex and exacting task and the result, though not a complete success, is still a good one, the best we could get with four out of the five criteria accepted. All those who filled in evidence questionnaires will have a copy of the notice and an explanation of this outcome as well as our thanks”
Dual hatted Sedgemoor councillors not allowed to vote
The meeting (The County Council’s Regulation committee) itself was fully attended by all committee members including dual hatted Sedgemoor members Dave Loveridge (Labour, Bridgwater North), Dawn Hill (Con, Cheddar) , Ann Bown (Con, Cannington & Wembdon) who all declared an interest.
Dave Loveridge (Labour, Bridgwater North) spoke for the application stating the need for open green space in the centre of Bridgwater and the future outlook on adjoining properties. Dawn Hill (Con, Cheddar) spoke against the application stating only 11% of land was being lost and that Tesco will enhance the remainder and agreed with the 63 page report by the inspector. All SDC councillors then had to leave the meeting and couldn’t vote.
Speakers for the application were Westover residents Tricia Walsh and Trevor Monaghan plus maverick independent Bob Cudlipp.
Cllr Tucker reports “All speakers put up the argument of loss of green space, play area and the way SCC and SDC had conducted the whole issue. Exchanges between the chairman (Cllr Derek Yeomans, Conservative, Curry Rivel) and Bob Cudlipp became heated which resulted in Bob stating that there was a feeling of corruption on the council’s side. I understand he is putting in a complaint on how the chairman ran the meeting.”
Tories and Lib Dems unite to scupper Town Green bid
Cllr Tucker added “During the debate Cllr Nigel Woollcombe-Adams (Con, Mendip south) wanted assurance that the committee were only looking at the legal side of the village green application and nothing to do with Tesco or any other development. Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey (Lib Dem, Taunton south) wanted confirmation as to whether Tesco paid for the enquiry to which an officer confirmed they had not paid. Cllr Simon Coles (Lib Fem, Taunton east) asked if there was any relevance to the size of the field being built on to which the officer replied no. Cllr Tony Lock (Lib Dem, Yeovil east) then moved to recommend accepting the inspector’s report and Lib Dem colleague Hazel Prior-Sankey seconded it.”
The vote to accept the inspector’s report was unanimous with all the Tories and Libdems voting to reject the Brewery Field campaigners bid to save their field as a Town Green.
Westover councillor Brian Smedley said, “The campaigners worked hard to make the case to try to save this last and important bit of green open space from the developers and had considerable support from residents ,many of who submitted supportive statements for it’s retention, but at the end of the day they were fighting a colossally uneven battle against both landowning councils and the mighty land-grabbing developers at Tescos. Their fight on behalf of their community has been an inspiration and the victory at least a moral one.”