Public inquiry given autumn starting date

Uncertain future for Ashfield Park
Uncertain future for Ashfield Park

THE public inquiry to determine the future of Ashfield Park in Standish is set to take place in September, the Evening Post understands.

The much-anticipated proceedings will see a government inspector decide if the park space is granted village green status.

Although the applicant, Coun Gareth Fairhurst, has challenged the council to withdraw its objection because he claims it is based on false information.

Council bosses are expected to reject this proposal which is the latest in a series of claims and counter claims which have epitomised the bitter ongoing dispute between the two sides.

Coun Fairhurst has requested VG status to prevent any future housing development on the site, something the council has denied it has any plans for.

In response, council bosses are opposing it because they say it would prevent them from developing facilities at the park in the future.

But Coun Fairhurst says evidence he has obtained from the Open Spaces Society (OSS) disputes this claim.

He has therefore written to the local authority informing them that the OSS states: “In general, facilities to assist recreation would not be in breach of the legislation and neither would the erection of a small pavilion/changing rooms directly related to the use of the land.” A spokesman for Wigan Council said officers have received Coun Fairhurst’s letter and will respond once they have had time to investigate its claims.

The date of the inquiry, which still appears likely to go ahead despite the efforts to the contrary, will be confirmed as beginning in early September and will last for four days.

Hopes that it could be concluded earlier this year were dashed when the council decided to postpone it until after May’s elections to negate any political impact on local polls.