Residents asking: Why has the Oval been sold in secret by the City Council?
Whitstable Labour activists Bernadette Fisher, Peter Halfpenny and Rita O’Brien are investigating a decision made in secret by the Canterbury City Council Executive – soon to be disbanded for its lack of transparency and accountability – in December 2014. Minutes of the meeting show the sale agreement is ‘confidential’ and based on a still unpublished report apparently containing a bid from the Tile Warehouse for the site.
The Oval, in an iconic site which is integral to the Town’s history, has long been in public use, and was the subject of promises made as long ago as 1944 by Whitstable Urban District Council, confirmed by Canterbury City Council in 1990 and again in 1996, that it would continue to be freely available as public open space for community use.
The land was given to the townspeople specifically for community use. It was for years the site of a tea rooms and skating rink. Over the years proposals about the use of this site have stirred public fury and been the subject of public petition.
What will the people of Whitstable think now about this underhand decision by the district council and how it was made?
Labour thinks the people of Whitstable should have been consulted, and at the very least, should be given answers to these questions –
- Why sell this rare plot of public land in an iconic location which is integral to the town’s history without consultation with the people about its future use?
- Why was this matter discussed by the soon to be abolished CCC Executive at all – rather than in the Area Member’s Panel, for example?
- Why was it discussed in secret?
- If the land was up for sale, was Tile Warehouse the only permitted bidder, and if so why?
- Was consideration given to increasing the value of the publicly owned ‘Oval’ site by the Council purchasing the adjacent warehouse instead of selling the Oval to increase the value of the whole site for the landowner of the adjacent site?
- How much was it sold for? What is this prime sea facing land in the conservation area worth and is it being sold for its true market value? Has the Council met its legal responsibility to obtain the best value?
Whitstable Labour will –
- fight to find out the whole truth about this
- let the people of Whitstable know the full facts, and
- fight to maintain the Oval as a substantial public open space.
For more information contact the Labour Party campaigns team:
Campaign co-ordinator: Mike Bland
Mob: 07826 515616 Email: [email protected]
Press Officer: Andy Ashenhurst
Mob: 07779 657434
Email [email protected]