Sunday, 2 August 2009

Work started in breach of planning conditions

Bute Parks Alliance - Campaign Update!
Council intransigent - campaign develops nationwide strategy
| Work started 'illegally' on bridge and road | Opposition councillors unite to request moritorium | Campaign shifts to halt 70 year erosion of registered historic parks |

Work started in breach of planning conditions

Council contractors began clearing the bridge site two weeks ago in contrary to the planning condition protecting nesting birds till the end of July. The Council gave itself permission to ignore its own planning conditions! All the vegetation has been stripped and a massive ramp constructed running from North Road down to the edge of the feeder canal (see picture). The footpath along the canal, the ‘Bute Walk’, has been fenced off. We believe the bridge has been prefabricated and so could be in place within a few weeks.

A picture of 70 years erosion of public space
However this is by no means the end of our campaign. We are fighting to stop the incremental erosion of the whole central park complex, so not only Bute Park, but also Pontcanna Fields, Llandaff Fields and Sophia Gardens. In the last 70 years the green space which originally ran as far as Llandaff Cathedral has been gradually eroded to commercial developments and buildings. In the last 20 years this has speeded up enormously and nearly half the original parks space has been built on, privatised or fenced off. Individually some of these may seem justifiable but the incremental impact is catastrophic – see the mapping of erosion on our website or contact us and we’ll send you a map.

Council's plans still lack proven justification
The full impact of the Bute Park proposals is in the roads, paths and commercial developments and even if the bridge is built we will continue campaign to change the Council’s policies. Not only are roads being widened in the northern end of Coopers Field and in the world standard arboretum further hard surface paths and roads are proposed elsewhere. With climate change threatening the world there is simply no justification for the Council to drive huge articulated lorries into their grade 1 heritage park to deliver bedding plants from Holland. And it seems clear that while more events may not be on the cards larger commercial events are certainly intended.

Opposition unites to propose moratorium
We have already made a major impact on the Council and councillors throughout Cardiff. At the June Council meeting Independent, Labour and Conservative councillors united to propose a halt to development work in the four parks to allow proper public consultation. (Download the leaflet we distributed to councillors.) This proposal was defeated by the Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru Executive by a procedural manoeuvre. An online recording (edited to just the motion) is here which makes dismal viewing for anyone who thinks local democracy is healthy in Cardiff. A transcript of this will be on the website soon. Those of you who see the South Wales Echo may have seen the extraordinary outburst by the Council leader Rodney Berman accusing us of being a Labour Party front organisation. In fact our proposal to halt development and allow a proper consultation about the future of the central parks has been adopted by the Council’s own Scrutiny Committee which spent several months taking evidence rather than indulging in knee-jerk face saving diatribes.

Council avoids European Directives on Environmental Impact Assessment
We have had legal advice that the Council is in breach of its legal obligation to undertake a full environmental assessment of the impact of its plans on such an important heritage green space. We are awaiting guidance as to whether we can get legal aid to take a case against the Council. Even if we can’t, it is clear that the Council is ignoring European directives which the Welsh Assembly Government is fully signed up to. So we intend to take up our case with the Assembly. We'll also be co-ordinating a petition to WAG to safeguard historic parklands throughout Wales.

So what can you do?
Download a colour poster from the website and put it in your front window; give one to your friends and neighbours. If we can get posters in windows the politicians sit up and take notice, as the campaign against carpark charges and various local development campaigns have shown.

We are printing a leaflet which shows the 70 year decline of the parks. If you can deliver some in your street let us know; direct personal contact is the most effective.

Best of all please join us - see the links alongside. And, of course, we welcome any donations:

Professor Kevin Morgan Bute Parks Alliance

Join as a member
Bute Parks Alliance is now an unicorporated association and you can join. The easiest way is to go to the new website and download a form (actually why not download several so you can get neighbours and friends to join too?)

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