Saturday, 31 January 2009

Alliance to protect Bute Park formed

At the Bute Park meeting on 27th Jan we took a decision to set up a campaigning organisation called the Bute Parks Alliance with the initial aim of getting:

A moratorium on all development in the historic central parklands ( Bute Park , Sophia Gardens , Pontcanna Fields and Llandaff Fields) until there is a publicly agreed policy on their future use

Alliance to protect Bute Park formed Echo

AN OFFICIAL campaign group has been launched to oppose controversial building plans in a landmark city park. About 40 Cardiff residents have voted in favour of forming the Bute Parks Alliance – a lobby group which plans to protest and petition against council proposals to expand roadways through the city centre ground and build a £1.4m lorry bridge in its vicinity.

The group, which has existed informally for about a year, also hopes to attract a big name celebrity backer to heighten its profile, and to make use of lawyers and local planning specialists who are sympathetic to its cause.

Professor Kevin Morgan, who organised the meeting, said: “My own personal view is that we cannot do anything about these things until we have a strategy.

“People can sign up to a group and state the skills they have to offer.

“That is one of the key things I think we hope to come out of this.”

If given the go-ahead, the proposed scheme of improvements would run alongside a £3.6m lottery-funded project to restore features in the Grade I-listed park and improve public access.

Work could start later this year with no public consultation, which the Cardiff University planning academic claimed would cause “degradation” of the Victorian green space.

As well as making a firm decision to launch the alliance with immediate effect, residents at the meeting in Cardiff University’s Glamorgan Building on Tuesday night voted resoundingly in favour of establishing seven sub-action groups.

These include lobby and press committees, an internet team and a research and planning division.

Lecturer and member of the newly formed group Gill Boden also put forward a proposal to attract support from high-profile Welsh figures.

“Celebrities sell things, and we should get their names,” she told fellow members.

The campaigners, who are mainly from Cathays and Pontcanna, have been trying to force Cardiff council to reconsider its plans, as they believe the changes could accelerate “long-running and incremental” erosion of the park.

The council has also attracted criticism in the Echo letters pages.

Many readers fear the plans are aimed at raising council revenue by staging extra events or privatising the nurseries.

But Nigel Howells, city councillor and executive member for sport, culture and leisure, said the new road was the only way lorries could be diverted away from North Gate, close to the castle.

He said the road would result in improved access for walkers, which in turn would fulfil the Heritage Lottery Fund’s aim of increasing public access.

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