THE POLITICAL ‘hot potato’ of St Mary’s Lands nearly caused a ‘riot’ at a recent Warwick Town Council meeting, so say a campaign group.
The Friends of St Mary’s Lands group stopped by the meeting to seek councillor’s opinions on the proposals, which could see a hotel built on the site.
Earlier this year a masterplan was created for St Mary’s Lands. It includes a cycle path from Hampton Road to Saltisford Brook; improvements to footpaths and parking; a new play area next to the Forbes estate; and public toilet facilities at both the golf club and Racing Club Warwick, and improved drainage and flood defences.
But members of the group say town councillors are avoiding the issue and that they were spoken to rudely by the mayor and chairman Stephen Cross.
Group spokeswoman Linda Bromley said: “I was a town councillor and have been to lots of meetings but have never seen one like this. There was a near riot and the questioners were treated very badly by the mayor.
“Our town council has given the district council carte blanche to approve the plans.
“The public have been kept in the dark because meetings are held behind closed doors in strict confidentiality and no minutes are kept. Has democracy become a thing of the past?”
But the council says its agenda was to inform and not to debate and that the mayor was forced to act accordingly after members of the group became disruptive. They also say at no point did the meeting descend into a near ‘riot’.
Leader of Warwick Town Council Moira-Ann Grainger said: “The town council is saddened by the reaction of the Friends of St Mary’s Lands who feel they have not been adequately consulted with or had their issues discussed and consequently have made a number of statements which are incorrect.
“Warwick Town Council has been actively involved with the formation of the masterplan. Our councillors have attended meetings, assisted in the consultation sessions and together with other member groups helped format the document.
“However it is not our masterplan it is a piece of work commissioned by Warwick District Council, who are the owners of St Mary’s Land and it is for them to adopt and ratify the plan.
“Warwick Town Council will continue to be active as we now move toward the delivery stage. We strongly urge the Friends’ to continue to take an active part in this process.”
The future of the the site is set to be discussed further at a public question and answer session being held the district council.
It comes following months of public confusion – and concern – over redevelopment plans.
Members of the council will be joined by staff from Plincke, the project management team overseeing work, to discuss ideas and answer questions.
District coun Noel Butler said: “We have organised this meeting so that we can share facts and clarify any concerns.”
The session will be held in the Ballroom of the Town Council Offices in Warwick on Monday (September 25) at 7pm.