"We are naturally very disappointed that the Stone Independents (SIG) party have chosen not support the residents of Heath Gardens and to take this unique opportunity to secure some vital green space in Stone for future generations.
Without taking any time to discuss the towns options, the SIG dominated Town Council took only 24 hours to issue this statement via A Little Bit of Stone
The reasons for not wanting to help are unconvincing. They state that if the Stone Town Council purchases this land at Heath Gardens then STC would have to purchase all of the other land designated as Local Green Space. This simply isn’t a credible position to take. If local authorities or governments didn’t act because they were worried about setting a future precedent, then no government would take a decision on anything and nothing would ever get done. Each case deserves to be judged on its individual merits and a decision taken on the benefits to the community of spending rate payers money. The benefits of green space are clear; from promoting mental and physical health, reducing morbidity and mortality in urban residents by providing psychological relaxation and stress alleviation to stimulating social cohesion. A huge return on a small investment.
The benefits of spending £5000 on free parking on Saturdays - a day when the high street is at it busiest - are less obvious. But SIG clearly believe in the existence of these benefits and it wasn’t a concern to them then that people might expect free parking to be maintained forever. They judged that investment on its individual merits.
The community are not requesting that the Stone Town Council purchase all 57 areas that are designated Local Green Spaces (LGS). To be accurate, this land at Heath Gardens is not even designated LGS in the Neighbourhood Plan (NP). Along with 20 other green sites, the area at Heath Gardens was downrated to Local Green Infrastructure (LGI) by the independent examiner, which affords it less protection from future planners than had it received LGS status.
But even if take the SIG excuse not to act at face value, why does the SIG feel it would be obliged to purchase the other 20 LGI sites? Most of these are small pockets of land, some involve water courses. Do they even know the legal status of these 20 other LGI sites. And how infrequently do these sites even come up for sale for the opportunity to even arise?
But Cllr Hood won’t act, because it is easier to stand back and blame others than it is to actually take action and do something positive for the community.
Politicians are there to serve the people, not the other way round. But that is what we are faced with here, with the community having to step in where our leaders are not prepared to. It now puts the residents of Heath Gardens in the position where they now have very little time to set up a legal entity to act as a vehicle to purchase the land, and to crowd fund the necessary money. We are supporting their efforts in order to crowd fund to buy this land. If you can contribute, please do:
If the Stone Independents will not step in to purchase the land themselves, will they at least support this community with a contribution to the crowd funding goals?