Councillor joins opposition to River Lawn sale

LEADING LIGHT Abi Todd was named Kent League Player of the Year

PERSISTENT protests against the sale of publicly owned green space have hit home with one councillor coming out against the decision.

Opposition has been growing in the town against the disposal of the area along River Lawn Road since the decision was made by the Borough Council’s Cabinet on February 9. More than two thousand signatures have been collected via petitions calling for a halt to the sale while hundreds attended a protest at the site on May 7.

So far borough councillors have remained steadfastly behind the proposals, or have decided to not voice their opposition.

But last week Cllr David Cure, a Conservative for Judd ward, told the Times: “I will be asking Cabinet to reconsider selling the land [known as River Lawn]. I think it should remain as a green space.

“There is a public footpath that runs alongside the river and I think that should certainly be retained. I’d like to see it retiled like the rest of the River Bank, which is looking very nice now.

“River Lawn itself has been left in a poor state. I would like to see it upgraded rather than sold.”

He also cited concerns over a democratic deficit on the decision: “If the petition reaches over a certain number [1,500] it will be debated at full council.

“However, the council can’t override the Cabinet, which does throw up some democratic issues.”

When asked whether he agreed with campaigners that the decision has been made in an underhand way, he replied: “The public were not informed enough on this issue.

“Cllr Heslop [Council Leader] has come out with a full statement but he’s been forced into that positions with the protests.”

Although Cllr Cure is open to compromise; he accepts that if retaining River Lawn as a green space is not possible, he would like to see assisted living facilities for the elderly built rather than the anticipated luxury apartments.

“If we can’t keep the area green, there needs to be some deal with a housing association or a developer. We desperately need homes, our waiting list is huge – we’ve got around 1,000 people on it,” he said.

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