Monday, 18 April 2011

Pierremont Park

By Jenny Matterface

I went to speak at Sunday's public meeting about the Pierremont Park Community Centre and it was good to see so many attend on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to show their concern over the planned scheme.

A number of the local candidates spoke including three of the Lib. Dems. , Colin Kemp, Nigel Utton and I for Labour and Robin Vaughan-Lyon, an Independent candidate.

None of the local Conservative candidates or sitting councillors attended to justify the decision to press ahead with the scheme despite much vocal local opposition.

All those who spoke were united in their opposition to the demolition of existing buildings, neglected by the council for for the last eight years and the costly building of a centre where there are so many unanswered questions. What most were concerned about was the the apparent lack of clarity regarding the finances obtained by the trust. Was it so many thousands or a different sum? It seems that different figures have been bandied about so no-one seems clear if it's this amount or that. What is clear is that sums of money have been obtained and so presumably, interest is already being paid.

What did come out during the question and answer sessions is that many feel that the public consultation was anything but as, despite petitions with thousands of signatures, Thanet District Council decided that they would ignore the views of these people and give planning permission anyway.

Who will benefit in the long run by the scheme? The stage school promised space has moved to Ramsgate. The nursery school in Park Hall will be using the space but the feeling was a private nursery would presumably use the space in a public building but at what rental? The badminton players currently using Retort House may find renting space uneconomic. Who was the Conservative canvasser in Viking who didn't know where Retort House is? A candidate or an out-of-towner?

The new Baptist Church centre in Queen's Road is to be a secular not just a religious centre and many local schools and churches have facilities available for hire. Is this the right time to land the council taxpayers of Broadstairs with a hefty bill for decades?

What is the occupancy rate of TDC-owned buildings anyway? What rents are charged? Can many organisations afford the rents likely to be charged to make the centre pay? Remembering many £thousands have to be repaid at 5% p.a. so at what level will rents be set?

Among those present were Conservative voters unhappy with the way they've been treated. Will they be sending a message to the Conservative candidates on May 5th? Can the Conservatives afford to ignore these angry voters?

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