Village group sets out the 'true' facts

Standish Recreation Ground
Standish Recreation Ground

A residents’ group has quashed rumours circulating in its area about its motives and work consulting on a popular open space’s future.

Neighbourhood forum Standish Voice said it needed to set the record straight after members had asked questions about its senior leadership team and its aims.

The organisation is currently consulting on the future of The Rec, with residents being given a number of options to either leave it as it currently is or look at other possible uses for it.

However, feelings have run somewhat high with Standish Voice now feeling the need to clarify a few points, such as that the organisation is not part of Wigan Council and is not receiving money from local businesses.

A Standish Voice spokesman said: "This has come about because our members have been asking us about these things and we need to set people straight.

"It is totally untrue that we are part of Wigan Council. We are a group made up of residents from across Standish who only want to improve our village and tackle the problems we have, but the council has to, by law, help us create a Standish Neighbourhood Plan, which can help to solve some of those problems.

"No committee member is paid in any way for doing this work. We are all volunteers.

"None of us run businesses in Standish centre or have any financial interest in any shops and businesses there.

"Standish Voice has not and will not submit a planning application for a car park on the Rec and it is totally untrue that we are ignoring the covenant.

"The council’s legal department has looked into this and advised Standish Voice that there is no legal impediment to any of the ideas for The Rec that was consulted on."

The forum says it has also had to delete a number of aggressive comments from its Facebook site and is warning breaches of its code of conduct on social media or at its meetings will not be tolerated.

Standish Voice said the money from house-building developments in the area provide a "once in a generation chance" to invest in The Rec and make it a facility for the whole community.

The forum says it is aware that there is opposition to some of the consultation options and stressed that everyone’s views will be taken into account.

It also emphasised that there will still be plenty of opportunities for people to have their say before any proposals are implemented.

The spokesman said: "We will look at all the feedback we have been given to come up with a policy on what is best for The Rec which will go out for further consultation when the draft Standish Neighbourhood Plan is published. This draft plan can be altered in the light of that consultation.

"The process is then to send Standish Neighbourhood Plan to Wigan Council for their approval. They will consult the people of Standish again on the plan and can alter it afterwards.

"Then an independent planning inspector will look at Standish Neighbourhood Plan and make any changes he or she believes are necessary.

"Then the plan will be put to a referendum of the whole village to either say yes or no to its adoption.

"Only after that would a planning application be put in to change The Rec in any way. Objections can be made to that planning application and councillors on Wigan’s planning committee will make a decision."

The proposals for The Rec will form just one aspect of the Standish Neighbourhood Plan, which will also look at housing, green spaces and the environment, businesses, transport links and the village centre.