M&S and Westbridge Park – a reply


The letter below is a response to an open letter from Stone Independent Party, published on our website on February 16th

Read that first letter here… http://www.stonegazette.co.uk/2016/02/ms-and-westbridge-park-an-open-letter-from-stone-independents/


Dear Gazette readers
With reference to above subject, Mr Mike Smith, currently Cabinet Member for Leisure at Stafford Borough Council, has written the following response which is fully supported by the Conservative Group at Stone Town Council.
‘What a strange letter indeed from Stone Independents. They say they are helping develop plans to improve Leisure facilities, really? Where is the evidence of this? On the other hand if your readers would like to have a look at the Borough Councils Cabinet report dated 12 Dec 2014 (a public document available to all) they will see Stafford Borough Council has agreed to commit over £4m towards the project. That is over and above any 106 money (developer’s contributions for house building) and the receipt of monies for the sale of a small area for the M& S proposal.
Stone Independents can “believe” all they like about the amount of 106 money. The facts are that without the sale of the land for M&S plus another £4m from the council (some reserves and some borrowing) there will be no new Leisure facilities.
Stafford Borough Council also agrees that Westbridge park should be retained for Leisure use and has agreed to hand over the existing green space to Stone Town (Parish) council and they can carry out whatever changes they want including their wishes for landscaping, walkways, picnic areas, children’s play areas and community facilities. Of course the ‘manageable costs’ will then be down to them.
The park has not been allowed to deteriorate. Stafford Borough Council has been frustrated by activists in Stone who have opposed all changes and whilst these perpetuate nobody is going to spend money in the short term if the facilities need moving to accommodate the new Leisure Centre and a teenage play area.
The Independents again bring out the old chestnut implying that Stone does not get its fair share of funding for Leisure. Time and time again the proof has been given to them that the Leisure spend per head of population in Stone is 4 times that per head of population in Stafford and that has been consistent since at least 2005. It is obvious more money will be spent in Stafford because it has 4 times the population. When the new Leisure Centre is built in Stone the proportion of spend per head will increase enormously in favour of Stone but it will be no thanks whatsoever to Stone Independents’.
It should be noted that the Stone Independent group has had many opportunities to raise the points that are contained in their letter within the chamber of the Borough Council itself, and thus facilitate discussion around the issues that the Stone Independent Group may have with regard to Westbridge Park.
Many Regards
Stone Conservative Group
(Stone Town Council)