An informative site built through necessity, due to the appalling behaviour of local Councilliars supported by the restrictive censorship policies of the local press in the Portishead area who feel it is their duty to remove any factual statements of wrongdoings by local Councilliars
ah, that skate park
The below is an extract of an exchange between several parties with an interest in the skate park. It may only be a few paragraphs at present to highlight what and who are really the reasons why, so long after planning permission was granted for a skate park at the Lake Grounds, and after a huge campaign by local people the skate park has still not been allowed, but we guarantee that there is more damning evidence to prove that certain councillors have made it a personal campaign to oppose the park against the wishes of those who proved their case and won the backing of the Town Council and the Police amongst others. These personal campaigns backed only by party loyalty at Weston Super Mare, aided by our own councillors openly lying to get their way are not the actions expected of our elected representatives who always remember they were elected but tend to forget they are elected to represent not condescend and put their personal agendas above all else.
I have permission to share the content but not all the email addresses and information at the moment but suffice to say this wording confirms that Cllr David Pasley (as we always knew) has been pursuing another agenda with regard to the outdoor skatepark and of more concern, refusing to share the information with those who have worked so hard in Portishead for a skatepark facility.
Portishead Skatepark Project has really been messed around on this subject and I am appalled with the manner in which they have been treated. I have always believed that the "secret developer" meetings and talks were underhand and to continue acting in a way that excludes the skatepark group, I personally find deplorable.
What I find more distasteful is Cllr Pasley's attitude that he can do whatever he likes without disclosing whether he is acting as a town councillor, a district councillor or personally. This councillor knew full well that the town council promised to work together with the skatepark group and that the "alternative site options" would be disclosed to them. He knew that Cllr Tony Lake of North Somerset Council had instructed Portishead district councillors that they should communicate with Portishead Skatepark Project and discuss the three alternative sites, yet Cllr Pasley has chosen to withhold information. I cannot begin to understand why he would wish to pursue an agenda without involving the people who matter but can only assume that there is something unsatisfactory about his methods. Portishead people deserve to know what is going on. Portishead youth deserve to be treated with a little more openness and honesty.
The fact one councillor allegedly walked out of a meeting that Cllr Pasley was holding with a developer because of the nature of those discussions and that she has said that she "did not go into politics for that kind of discussion", gives the impression the reason for the secrecy would be frowned upon.
With Don Cameron disclosing in a leaked email to Tory colleagues that there is corrupt practice going on in the Conservative Party (as publicised today on the BBC), I wonder what else there is that we tax payers are not being told about local politics.
Why is it that we expect our youth in this town to behave appropriately and respectfully, yet we accept such poor behaviour from an elected representative.
I hope the whole truth comes out on this saga eventually. I dislike people being misled. I dislike even more anyone who deliberately conceals information and is involved in such underhand practices to suit their own personal agenda. I think as many people as possible should attend the next town council meeting on Wednesday 12th September and express their concern. If we all sit back and do nothing, those who seek to mislead us will merely continue.
The above was written by local resident Annette Hennessey who ( I hope she will forgive us for mentioning it) was presented with an award in 2011 after being nominated as a Champion of the Community, ironically organised by Portishead Town Council, members of whom should take a leaf out of her book and the Bristol Evening Post & Portisheadpeople who these days have a habit of removing her comments from their web forums even though they are factual and do nothing more than enlighten local people of how matters are being dealt with in the town. Personally we would have more faith in the integrity and honesty of a community minded individual with nothing to gain rather than the untrustworthy councillors who have read their own code of conduct but chose to do the opposite.
There will soon be a vast archive of material to expose the actions of the individuals involved. Nobody involved with this website has any role in the Portishead Skatepark Project nor has any political or financial motive for highlighting our concerns. We have basically just had enough of local councillors arrogant and selfish attitudes to the people of the town.
Facts & Fiction
In Feb 2010, each councillor on the North Area Committee received an email from more than one Portishead resident asking why they had ignored the planning evidence and voted against the skatepark.
Cllr Felicity Baker said "The local Ward member (Cllr Pasley) referred to ASB and I felt that an alternative site would be preferable". So she listened to the ward councillor but ignored the planning evidence.
Cllr David Pasley - "We have solid planning reasons for turning down this application".
FACT: This comment is not the truth. All planning policies were complied with. Cllr Pasley cannot justify this comment.
FACT: NSC Environmental Protection Manager Mark Ponsford "I appreciate the time taken yesterday to look at the proposed sites for a wheeled play facility in Portishead. My preference would be the Lake Grounds".
FACT: Mark Ponsford (Environmental protection Officer) in Sept 2010, "I have been unable to trace any complaints that relate to use of skateparks within North Somerset. This does not necessarily mean that there has never been a complaint - just that no-one can recollect any".
FACT: NSC officer David Tate "See no valid planning reasons for objecting to a skatepark at the Lake Grounds".
FACT: Cllr David Pasley's email stating he had "fresh and valuable information" at the planning stage was also false.
Cllr David Pasley "The Gordano site for a skate park was a condition imposed by the developer".
FACT: There was no Section 106 monies involved so how could a developer impose such a condition? And why does he now claim that developer has promised land at Harbour Road when he insisted at the time Gordano was the ONLY option. These comments have recently been proven to be false as no developer has ever given S106 money for a skate park and the headmaster at the time at Gordano School has confirmed no such plans were made.
Cllr Terry NSC Scrutiny Panel Jan 6th: Quote " Portishead Town Council Did not support the skate park at the lake grounds"
FACT: Portishead Town Council minutes and documentary evidence confirms that the Town Council did support the skate park at the lake grounds.
Why was Councillor Peter Bryant removed from the final decision making even though the final decision had long been made?
Councillor Bryant failing to comprehend the requirement to follow due process in planning matters actually stated
16th June 2011
“You are absolutely right however in that I am not prepared to consider any evidence”
The original decision notice that was posted on the NSC website and then swiftly removed but which some of us managed to copy prior to its removal, stated the following:
“In this particular case the issue was fully investigated during the original planning application in 2010 and S & OS ( Streets & Open Spaces) consider that further research into this matter is not therefore needed. Local members, through the North Area Planning Committee, decided that the skate park was not appropriate for the Lake Grounds and I also understand from recent discussion with the local ward member Cllr Pasley that this position is still largely held. (bit of a porky there we feel) With these points in mind S & OS would not recommend that the lease is granted.”
Now please excuse our confusion but Cllr Peter Bryant and Cllr Tony Lake, who are not Portishead Councillors decided in their ultimate wisdom with no coercion from any particular ward councillor in Portishead that their decision to not allow a skate park at the Lake Grounds was because:
“The majority view from the ward members is that the Lake Grounds was created by the former Urban District Council as a facility for the quiet enjoyment of all residents of the town and visitors and that there is concern about the threat to this principle by the demands of individual interest groups for space to be allocated to them for their own purpose. The view was that the Lake Grounds already accommodates a wide range of users and fulfils, in its current form, the above purpose and that further development would be detrimental to that purpose.”
How very interesting when the reality was that those same ward councillors sit on Portishead Town council who agreed to fully support the skate park AND the installation of play equipment. Portishead UDC ceased to exist in the mid seventies and today's more modern (sic) council should be concentrating on the needs of today's, and tomorrows children. These ward councillors should be taking the decisions made at Town council level and supporting the democratically determined decision that the town council, and therefore the residents, want these changes.
So why does a town council who mostly live in the town think it is alright to add necessary and modern leisure equipment to the biggest recreational area in the town and yet Councillors in WSM who probably have no interest in the town, listen to the weasel words of the turncoat councillors who agree at Town Council Level yet follow party political allegiance to support one of their own at District level.
It is quite clear what has been going on and Councillor Bryant's statement says it all, which is perhaps why he was removed from the decision making process even though that decision had already been pre-determined.
of the Meeting of the
Community and Corporate Organisation
Policy and Scrutiny Panel
Friday, 6th January 2012
held at the Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Meeting Commenced: 10.30am Meeting Concluded: 1.40pm
P David Pasley (Chairman)
P Mary Blatchford (Vice-Chairman)
A: Apologies for absence submitted
Other Councillors in attendance: Elfan Ap Rees, Bob Cook, Hugh Gregor,
Colin Hall, Ann Harley, David Jolley, Reyna Knight, Tony Lake, Tim Marter,
Dawn Payne, Terry Porter, David Shopland
Officers in attendance: Nicholas Brain, David Jellings, Philippa Penney,
Peter Sloman, Graham Turner, Lyndon Watkins, Nick Yates (Corporate Services),
John Flannigan, Mark MacGregor, Karuna Tharmananthar (Development and Environment)
The Chairman of the Panel, Councillor David Pasley, advised that he would be vacating the Chair for public discussion and for Agenda Item 4. These related to the Portishead Skate Park and, whilst he did not consider that he had a personal interest in the matter, he would vacate the Chair having regard to public perception. The Vice-Chairman would chair the meeting for these items.
Councillor Mary Blatchford, Vice-Chairman, in the Chair.
Mr Jon Gething addressed the Panel.
He felt that the decision regarding the lease was unreasonable. The consultation response was silent on the opinion of Streets and Open Spaces. He refuted the assertion the Lake Grounds was full and stated that the independent Inspector had not voiced concern on this issue. The Portishead Skatepark Project (PSP) was not an individual interest group as the facility would be open and accessible for all.
Mr Gething said that a location search had assessed 16 sites and had eliminated all except the Lake Grounds. A decision to refuse the lease was therefore a decision to deny Portishead residents its skate park.
The Chairman thanked Mr Gething for his address.
Ms. Annette Hennessy addressed the Panel.
She said that the PSP had consistently adhered to and abided with due process, policy and procedure throughout. Ms Hennessy referred to correspondence with a number of local Members and stated that Portishead Town Council had previously carried a motion that fully supported the PSP. The Police had withdrawn all of their objections, and that to proceed with the project would bring the Lake Grounds into the 20th Century.
The Chairman thanked Ms. Hennessy for her address.
Ms. Liese Stanley addressed the Panel.
She said that the PSP had acted professionally in its undertaking to find a site for a skate park, assessing both good and bad criteria and taking all of these into account. 16 possible sites had been assessed over a period of 2 years, and only 3 had met the criteria. The Lake Grounds had been the favoured site, for which planning permission had been obtained. Consultation had taken place, including the views of North Somerset Council officers and a professional landscaper. The Police had also withdrawn their objections.
The Chairman thanked Ms. Stanley for her address.
Mr Barry Walters addressed the Panel.
Mr Walters said that he did not believe that there was an accepted need for a second skate park in Portishead. The statement that Portishead Town Council had supported the PSP actually referred to the previous administration and Mr Walters very much doubted that the current Town Council would support the project, although this was not proven. No public demand had been shown by the electoral system, demonstrated by the outcome of the 2011 local elections.
Mr Walters asserted that the Lake Grounds was indeed full and that a skate park in that area would diminish the current site’s family values. Portishead was well blessed with public open spaces, and a skate park should not be concentrated at the Lake Grounds.
The Chairman thanked Mr Walters for his address.
Mr Dave Oyns addressed the Panel.
Mr Oyns said that he had been involved with youth for all his working life and remained very positive in his support of them. He referred to the Lake Grounds as being the Jewel in the Crown of Portishead and termed it as nostalgic and in particular contrast to the modern development of Portishead. The skate park would be for the exclusive use of a relatively small section of the community and, with the exception of the play park, the Lake Grounds was currently a facility enjoyed by all.
Mr Oyns felt that skate parks generally attracted unwanted graffiti and was concerned as to who would be responsible for removing it. It would also be the cause of noise pollution, especially on quiet sunny days. Portishead already had a number of clubs and facilities attracting membership from young people, including the air cadets, football clubs and Parish Wharf swimming pool. Mr Oyns added that many of the objectors were strongly in favour of the principle of the creation of a skate park, but just not sited at the Lake Grounds.
The Chairman thanked Mr Oyns for his address.
Councillor Yamanaka explained her reasons for the call in and also read out an email from a local youth skateboarder who supported the idea of a skate park for teenagers. She could see no validity in the decision and gave a number of supporting reasons including the following: there was no evidence that the Lake Grounds were only for quiet enjoyment as, if that was the case, there would be no children’s playground as this was certainly not quiet; all the evidence showed that noise would not be a problem; it would be unlikely to have a significant impact on nearby homes; it would have a positive impact on anti-social behaviour as would give the youths something to do; there were no areas of shelter to harbour youths; the landscape was a quiet concrete, sunken area with the security of CCTV; PSP was not an individual interest group and the facility would be open to all; this area of the Lake Grounds was not currently in much use and was not an attractive area; the Inspector had found that a skate park in this site would have no detrimental impact.
Councillor Canniford added his support for the call in and said that everything that this Council would normally demand had been met by PSP, including planning permission. They also had the support of Portishead Town Council, although he would be more comfortable to hold a Parish Poll on this issue. Councillor Canniford felt that the problems had been created by councillors and that the leadership of the Council had made it clear that a lease would be supported in the event of planning approval.
Members discussed a number of issues supporting the PSP, including: concern regarding the negative message which could be given to voluntary groups if the lease was refused at a time when the Council was asking the voluntary sector to assist with service provision in the future; that the Lake Grounds were created for the enjoyment and pleasure of all residents and visitors to Portishead; that the area was not lit so there would be no trouble or noise after dark; that PSP was taking full responsibility for funding the project, which was the way that North Somerset Council was asking towns and parishes to proceed.
Members also discussed a number of issues against the siting of the skate park in the Lake Grounds, including: Kilkenny Fields had been rejected by PSP too readily when it was a more suitable site for a second skate park; funding was a concern as none had yet been made available by PSP and it was unclear what the impact would be for North Somerset e.g. CCTV; the project did not have the local resident support claimed by PSP and it was actually estimated that approximately 85% of those living in the vicinity were against it; that PSP had not abided by due process and integrity throughout the process.
The Head of Legal and Democratic Services confirmed that land ownership was not an issue that was taken into consideration in deciding planning applications.
The Executive Member informed the Panel that he would consider its recommendation in due course. He emphasised that the decision was not to refuse a second skate park for Portishead, and he sincerely hoped that all would be able to work together to find an approved site to support this aim.
It was proposed and seconded that the decision to refuse the lease had not been taken on reasonable grounds and that the Executive Member be requested to reconsider his decision not to grant the lease for Portishead Skate Park at the Lake Grounds, Portishead. The proposal was put to the vote and was CARRIED (6 votes in favour, 5 against, 6 abstentions).
Concluded: that the Panel recommends that the Executive Member reconsiders his decision not to grant the lease for Portishead Skate Park at the Lake Grounds, Portishead for the reasons given in the preamble above.
The Panel adjourned at 12.10 p.m.