A cuddly protest

Ashfield Park
Ashfield Park

PARK users are planning a cuddly protest to protect a much loved community facility.

The Save Ashfield action group - which staged its second public meeting in Standish this week - are now organising a Teddy Bear’s Picnic on the popular park and football pitch complex on Saturday, May 5.

They hope to pack the park with children and their toys in a show of the strength of opposition to Morris Homes’ bid to redevelop it for housing while relocating play facilities to the closed 18 hole golf course site they own on the other side of Standish off Rectory Lane.

Action Group chairman Gareth Fairhurst, an Independent candidate in the elections, acknowledged that fewer members of the public had attended the meeting than the first one.

But he said this was because people had been told beforehand that there was now no need to attend because the planning bid by Morris had been withdrawn.

Mr Fairhurst also claims that a “confidential memo” has been put into circulation claiming that he has made up the threat to Ashfield to give him a platform to fight his re-election campaign.

The 70 members of the public who attended the meeting heard that the Village Green Status application that would prevent any future development of Ashfield has now been submitted.

And they were asked to fill in a questionnaire that the group has produced to help with the legal campaign.

Mr Fairhurst stressed how vitally important gathering evidence about the park’s use will be for a successful forthcoming public inquiry, demonstrating that Standishers have used the park for years.

He also disclosed that the ‘Save Ashfield’ petition has now reached 2,000 names.

The group have pledged to press on for more than 5,000 signatures which would then, under the Standing Orders of the council, trigger a debate about the controversial application before the full council.

Mr Fairhrust said: “It is great that the community is rallying together and want to get involved.

“More and more ideas are coming forward and if the council decide that they want to fight at a public hearing then they will have a battle on their hands.”