A residents’ group battling against plans to change the use of a popular green space has set the record straight on its objections to the idea.
Don’t Wreck Our Rec spoke out after Standish Voice, which is consulting on the future of The Rec, went public about its work and the people running it following questions from members.
The group said it needed to correct misconceptions that it was formally part of Wigan Council, that senior committee members could be receiving money from town centre businesses, that covenants on the Rec were being ignored and that a planning application had already been submitted for a car park on the green space.
Don’t Wreck Our Rec, which claims it is one of the groups Standish Voice is referring to despite the neighbourhood forum not naming any organisation or individual in its comments, has now hit back, saying the questions it has asked are perfectly legitimate.
The group, which has a petition signed by more than 1,300 people, also emphasised its continued opposition to Standish Voice’s preferred option for The Rec which is for a park with a small car park.
The space is currently a sports field and was originally gifted to the people for children to use, with Don’t Wreck The Rec vowing to contest fully any attempts to change this.
Chairman Shaun Booth said: “At a Standish Voice meeting, legitimate questions were asked about any links between committee members and local business.
“People making important decisions about the future of our community must be impartial.
“A number of local businesses have been prominent campaigners for a car park on the Rec. It is fully justified to ask Standish Voice committee members to declare if they have any links with local businesses.
“This is standard practice in public life and people should not take exception to it but simply provide honest answers. Standish Voice committee members have not declared any conflict of interest and this has been recorded in their minutes.
“We did ask at meeting if a planning application had been made and Standish Voice reassured us that this was not the case.
“The truth is we never want to see a planning application to put a car park on the Rec and will fight any application every inch of the way.
“The requirement for the Rec to be used as a children’s playground is recorded in the deeds from 1923. Covenants can be overturned in some circumstances. Attempting this would be very risky and potentially very expensive for the council.
“More importantly it would show a cynical disregard for the historic wishes of the last members of the Standish family. ”
The neighbourhood forum’s link with the town hall has also come under scrutiny, with Don’t Wreck Our Rec saying Standish Voice are “working hand in glove” with the council and Standish Voice saying involving the local authority closely is a legal requirement for drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan.
Don’t Wreck Our Rec also called on Standish Voice to ensure social media posts supporting both sides of the argument are monitored to the same standards but fully supported the group’s right to delete abusive messages.
The consultation did not recommend leaving the Rec as it currently is, with the forum saying it would be happy to create a village park there if the car park proposal turns out to be extremely unpopular.
Don’t Wreck Our Rec say a car park will expose hundreds of primary school children to increased air pollution, do nothing to combat the traffic levels in Standish which are already too high and will destroy one of the area’s few remaining pieces of open land.
For more information visit dontwreckourrec.com