Dursley BMX track and play equipment face uncertain future
THE FUTURE of a BMX track and play equipment at a Dursley playground remains uncertain as Dursley Town Council refuses to sign the lease which would unlock £15,470 to improve the site.
Stroud District Council gave permission for the facilities to be built at Highfields Park with an informal agreement made that DTC or a community group would take over the lease and maintenance of the park.
But, over five years later, no agreement has been reached, with DTC unhappy that in this time SDC have not kept the BMX track in good order, which now requires substantial repair work, estimated to cost over £1,500.
They have been further angered by the latest letter from SDC, which Cllr Alex Stennett described as the authority trying to bully DTC into the agreement, which would last 25 years.
At Dursley’s full council meeting on Tuesday, August 6, he said: "My immediate reaction is I do not like the way we are being addressed.
"They will effectively be our landlords. If this is the way they are treating us now it doesn’t bode well for the future.
"It will be an excellent facility, it would be good to have it under our control, but when we have letters like this it makes me want to sit on the fence for the moment."
The letter from an SDC officer set out the summary of the lease contract, adding it was the result of years of work and "not open to further negotiation".
The officer states the council considered the site to be in satisfactory condition.
"However, as a gesture of goodwill and to cover DTC’s immediate perceived improvement or maintenance need, I have secured informal approval to give DTC £2,000 on completion of the lease."
When the lease is signed, the body in control of the park can apply for a developer’s contribution of £15,470 to upgrade the site, but this money cannot go on running or maintenance costs.
Cllr Sue Creswick said: "Even with this slight improvement I still think it is a bad deal for us to take on SDC’s liabilities."
But Cllr Clare Nelmes believed they should sign the lease as it stands.
"To be honest this is the best that we are going to get," she said. "We have already committed that we are going down this route so it’s difficult really.
"It’s an important open space, it is not all about liabilities. If we look after the area we can decide how it is improved."
The council narrowly agreed to discuss the lease at the next green spaces committee meeting on Tuesday, September 17, with six voting for and six against the motion and Mayor Jane Ball having the casting vote.
A SDC spokesman said he was surprised to hear about the reaction at the meeting.
"As far as we're aware, discussions and correspondence have been entirely amicable, professional and positive," he said.
"We've even offered £2,000 to cover existing maintenance and to make improvements so that the handover can be progressed."
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