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Independents’ dangerous “Town Green” plan

with 7 comments

meetingPlan would blight South Shields future

It was hard to escape the political nature of the meeting held yesterday in Brigham and Cowan’s Club in South Shields called by local businessman Ahmed Khan who stood as an Independent Alliance candidate in May’s local government election, the invitation leaflets distributed in the Beacon and Bents ward carried the the party logo along the bottom. It was clear that this marks the beginning of the longest election campaign (nine months) that we are likely to see in South Tyneside. The Labour Party and the Independent Alliance will be the two major combatants with Cllr. Wood facing Mr. Khan.

Ahmed Khan chose the occasion to introduce what may be an Independent ‘policy initiative’ that will surely blight the development of our sea front area for generations to come. The background to this ‘policy’ lies with the application to give Village Green status to Temple Memorial Park which had faced the threat of major development and lies on the edge of the green belt between South Shields and Sunderland. Temple Park is unique, in that the Church Commissioners bequeathed the park to the people of South Shields with a covenant that it be used exclusively for leisure and recreational purposes, and I support it’s ‘protected’ status – the Village Green application is entirely appropriate here to protect the vital buffer zone between two major urban areas.

However, Mr. Khan’s idea to provide very similar protection by applying for ‘Town Green’ status for the North Marine Park, the South Marine Park, the Bents Park, and the Bents Recreation Ground would set a dangerous path that would blight and stifle sea front development for many years to come. His plan would set in stone where and what new developments could be allowed, and these would only be allowed where existing permanent structures are currently based. Any new fresh ideas and proposals for future tourist developments, leisure centres, swimming pools, hotels, information centres, maritime museums, caravan parks etc. would be non starters if they fell within the areas deemed to be on the ‘Town Green’.

An idea already mooted in forward plans for sea front regeneration includes handing over the Sandhaven Caravan Park to a private company and allowing it to extend into the nearby Bents Recreation Ground, a very sound idea that would improve the caravan park’s facilities and allow us to attract more visitors to the town, thus increasing economic development. Such an idea would also be a non starter if the Bents were included within a ‘Town Green’.

There is great potential for future development in the sea front area, I would like to see a visitor centre and information point within the South Marine Park built within a new ‘railway station’ for the Lakeshore Railroad, but it couldn’t happen if the park was within a ‘Town Green’. For many years we have yearned for more facilities that visitors could enjoy indoors on rainy days, perhaps a swimming pool or a leisure centre? If they fell within the boundaries of the Independent’s ‘Town Green’ they could not be built.

There are many good imaginative ideas to bring more visitors to South Shields, but if we had a ‘Town Green’ would those futuristic plans and creative ideas just evaporate because of ‘Town Green’ restrictions.

Then there is climate change to consider, if the eco doom and gloom merchants happen to be correct and sea levels rise over the coming century, how will coastal erosion affect South Shields? Would it be necessary to move Sea Road and Harbour Drive further inland and encroach upon the parks? Couldn’t do it if they were a ‘Town Green’

What would my future grand children think of us when they begin to compare South Shields to it’s neighbouring seaside resorts of Whitley Bay, Tynemouth, and Sunderland in fourty or fifty years time and discover that whilst our neighbours had improved their environments and were wonderful places to visit, we had stood still, like a museum piece? Don’t we now complain that we are already being left behind by the progress of other North-East areas? I fear the ‘Town Green’ idea could blight the development of South Shields for years and years into the future.

I may have been spotted talking to the ever humourous and experienced former chairman of the Town Development committee, Gerry Graham, last night and we are agreed that this plan is a dangerous concept brought on by reacting too quickly to events of the last couple of weeks. There is a danger in selling out your own soul in an effort to accommodate the noisiest NIMBY’s on your doorstep, and as I said in my last post there is a much bigger picture to consider, and that is the future for the whole of South Tyneside, not just the immediate area around the Riverside and the North Marine Park. There are lots of times when a borough councillor, or an MP needs to be true to their own conscience and beliefs first and foremost, a representative without principles is a poor one, a poor representative is a person who attempts to agree with everyone – it just isn’t possible.

The appropriateness of Temple Memorial Park’s status cannot be transferred to the sea front parks, they are a totally different scenario, they are not the green belt buffer zone between towns, development and improvements cannot be banished from the minds of our future generations.

I say to Robin Coombes, Ahmed Khan, and the other Independents please change your mind, tear up the application, and improve the future prospects of South Tyneside by supporting well thought out plans and developments that improve the economic and employment opportunities of our children. Please see that your plan will be a vote loser at the polls and realise that it is irresponsible to tie the hands of our future citizens.

Last night’s two main speakers Cllr. John Wood (left), Mr. Ahmed Khan (right)

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Written by curly

August 1, 2007 at 10:08 am

7 Responses

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  1. curly i want to see our seafront move into the future also,what i dont want to see is our elected members making decisions on the future
    of our parks ect. without proper consultation with the people of our town not only beacon&bents residence,if at the end of the consultation and everything has been taking into account the people decide this is what they want all well and good. in my opinion me khan has took these steps to make us all aware what is going on.why should people like mr khan have to go to these leanths to make the public aware what will happen if things are left as they are.this is the question we all should be asking ourselfs today. this is a man with the best interests of the people and our town at heart.

    j taylor

    August 1, 2007 at 9:07 pm

  2. I agree that full open and frank consultation is essential, and it has to be meaningful. However, I cannot agree that preserving sections of the sea front area for evermore in their present condition is serving the best interests of future generations. We just don’t know what the future holds, and to tie their hands on future improvements or necessary developments would be a folly.

    curly

    August 1, 2007 at 10:30 pm

  3. yes curly it would be folly to tie there hands but i also agree that some action had to be taken though drastic it may seem to bring this to the ettention of us all.this council will sell you if you stood still long enough,before long no land will remain in the hands of this authority,who is to say our parks and foreshore areas would not be up for grabs in the near future and gone before we new it.

    j taylor

    August 2, 2007 at 2:48 pm

  4. just read our local paper the gazette. come on woody you dont think we will be fooled by once again another report and another photo shoot(the cheapest form of publicity) telling us all how you have been a good cllr you are working for the good of the people who elected you and the area you all live in.a quote from a lady who lives on the law top BEFORE IT WAS HORRENDOUS BUT THESE LAST THREE WEEKS ITS REALLY CALMED DOWN. why has it taken so long (years) to do something about the boy racers? these type of reports woody & co. dont do you any favours at all, it just lets us all see what you and your cronys dont do but could if you wanted to. the though of you loosing quite a few thousand pound next year has realy motivated you pity the motivation was not there in the years you have collected your money paid for by our hard work and sweat somthing you havent had to do for a long time. its time woody you slitherd under the nearest stone and stayed there, you are a absalute disgrace.

    j taylor

    August 2, 2007 at 6:45 pm

  5. once again i opened my gazette and there on page 7 we see woody with a paint brush in his hand (more evidance of a cure on his hands) smiling and taking the credit for a art studio reciving £60,000 grant from the northern rock foundation, can woody tell us all what part he played in this group reciving this money? none i would amagine,it must be that this group are from his ward so he belives he must take all the credit.i dont just lay all the blame for missleading the public this way on woody some of the blame must also go to the editor of the gazette john szymanski.his reporters must know if they do there homework that at times the clls they show in there articles have not at any time done any work, but they let the public belive they have.(THAT IS SO WRONG MR EDITOR)if you want to continue to sell your paper i suggest you stick to the facts.

    j taylor

    August 3, 2007 at 2:36 pm

  6. […] future generations. Putting such a straight jacket around our sea front is not the way to go, as I outlined in this blog on 1st. August this […]

  7. […] policy initiative ever offered to us by Ahmed Khan and the South Tyneside Independent Alliance, their town green plan of four years ago was inept, poorly considered, inappropriate, and likely to have blighted our […]


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