Park summit meeting thwarted

Ashfield Park, Standish
Ashfield Park, Standish

ATTEMPTS to call a special council meeting to debate a controversial Wigan park redevelopment bid has failed.

Within weeks of being elected, Coun Gareth Fairhurst used Metro Standing Orders to demand the new Mayor of Wigan call an extraordinary Full Council Meeting to debate the Morris Homes proposal for Standish’s Ashfield Park.

The Cheshire builders have suggested to the council relocating the play and sports facilities to a larger golf course site they own at the other side of the village, releasing the popular rec for executive house-building.

The fight to kill off the scheme was a key campaign which helped the Independent take the previously held Conservative seat earlier this month.

Coun Fairhurst said that the reason he formally asked the mayor to call the extraordinary meeting was because the first council meeting that any councillors could discuss the issues would be July 18, and the issue was too pressing for such delay.

Coun Fairhurst had his motion to call the meeting successfully backed by the required four other councillors, Lib Dems Couns Rob Bleakley and Paul Valentine, Independent Coun Frank Carmichael and Tory Coun Jim Grundy.

But he has now been told he will have to wait another two months before the issue can be discussed at the next time tabled meeting.

Coun Fairhurst said: “We had our first council meeting last week but I was told that we could not discuss any issues that councillors have as it was just a ceremonial Mayor Making occasion and I now have to wait another two months before the next one.

“This is crazy given that the ceremonial council meeting last three hours but half of that time was for the councillors to put their snouts in the taxpayers’ trough and have a free meal.

“The council’s copnstitution says that if the mayor fails to call the meeting then we can ask the Chief Executive to call it and this is what we will do.

“I have asked for a meeting with the Labour leaders about Ashfield when I was first elected but have not had one agreed.”

A spokesman for the council’s legal department said that the newly appointed mayor, Coun Myra Whiteside, had “carefully considered” Coun Fairhurst’s request that she call an Extraordinary Council Meeting to discuss Ashfield Park.

She said: “Such meetings may be convened if an urgent matter arises that requires a decision to be taken before the next scheduled meeting of the council on July 18.

“However, in this case the council’s decision whether to object or consent to the village green application is not required until after that meeting.

“The mayor therefore does not consider the matter of Ashfield Park requires the calling of an urgent meeting of the full council.

“The issue of Ashfield Park may, however, be debated at the July 18 council meeting, which has been scheduled in councillors’ diaries, prior to any village green decision having been taken.”

She added that in addition, Coun Gareth Fairhurst did not meet the formalities of the requisition as he had failed to submit the motion he wished to have debated.