Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hands Off Preston Park

The morning started at what my teenage daughter used to call "silly o'clock" in order to get to the BBC Tees studio this morning. There'd been an interview with Dari Taylor earlier in which she repeated the untruths that Eaglescliffe councillors had never consulted with our constituents and that the school would fit onto the overflow car park in the Park. I was able to point out just how frequently we do consult with our residents and to say how important the park is to the area.
The meeting of the Fairtrade Borough Partnership heard some very interesting information about the Town Pastor scheme and I'll write more about that another day. Today's main focus was the public meeting tonight.
People started to arrive from 530. By 545 it was obvious that we were going to have a full house. By 6 there were people standing all round the room and having started procedings we had to stop to make space for people standing outside to get in so I reckon there were at least 200 and maybe 25o in the room.
The meeting was chaired by Inspector Ian Garrett, Neighbourhood Police Inspector for the whole area involved. He did a wonderful job of keeping people in order, making sure that everyone had their say and that people were clear about the purpose of the meeting.
There were lots of really good informed comments, lots of people saying how disgusted they were with Dari, and an enormous strength of opinion that Preston Park is absolutely the wrong place for a school.
The mayor of Ingleby Barwick explained very clearly how the present situation had arisen and made a quiet but passionate plea for support. He was well received and from talking with him at the end I think he accepted that Eaglescliffe people want the best for the children of Ingleby as well. One of the IBIS councillors spoke and tried to explain their position but it was difficult as so many people wanted to ask him questions and make comment. He did manage to make himself heard to say that they don't want a school in Preston Park but do want a second one in Ingleby Barwick.
The vast majority of people in the room were very much opposed to the idea of building in the Park and there was a strong feeling that the present site is quite good enough.
The news of the Facebook group of over 1600 people and some of the comments being made on there was well received too.
It was wonderful to see so many people in a public meeting on a cold January evening. It's not the end of the campaign but it was certainly a milestone.
It was also good to be able to demonstrate to the people of Eaglescliffe and the wider area that when there's something on which we agree the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives can work together and share a platform. That fact didn't go unremarked by the people there. The Conservative candidate stated his position very clearly and at the end of the meeting Alan Lewis read out a message from Jacquie Bell stating her support for a secondary school in IB but her opposition to a school being built in Preston Park.
Now we have the job of sorting through all the comments and suggestions and making sure that the BSF team have all the information they need to see that the proposal has no public support at all.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Thank you for arranging the meeting. What can we do to persuade Dari Taylor and the Ingleby Barwick Councillors that the Allens West site is the same side of the level crossing as the existing school? Also, the MOD site is due to be developed and if that goes ahead, surely the overhead cables will need to be moved for that development?