Petition update

Worcester Park Library Garden ... an update on events

Richard Johnson
Worcester Park, ENG, United Kingdom

Jul 4, 2015 — You may have noticed that on Monday, barriers, machinery and vehicles appeared in the library car park, immediately reducing the number of parking spaces by eight, and denoting the imminent construction of the “library garden”. Though the planning application only intended reducing this busy, often at capacity car park by three spaces, the build is straining the parking situation in Worcester Park, precisely as many in our community had warned.

Having asked local residents and traders, I could find no evidence that either the Chair of the Friends of the Library, or any local Councillor having had the courtesy to inform anyone that this was about to happen. Presumably, just like the alleged “consultation” for the planning application itself, once again, ‘public consultation’ consisted of informing a very small and favourable few, then claiming, “Job done! The Worcester Park community is consulted!”

As for the planning application and committee itself, readers may have thought it strange that I was so active in opposing this garden, yet afterwards said little on the subject: This I will now explain. Firstly, tangible and transparent local opposition, from residents and traders alike was presented to the planning committee, together with some excellent, impenetrably strong health related evidence from a qualified research doctor. All the applicant could muster was a claimed, (but still, to this day, elusive and invisible), “96% approval” for the application, which was swiftly accepted and approved by the planning committee.

Authentic, health related evidence from respected sources (including some statements from Kingston’s former Lib Dem MP and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) was supplied in objection to this application, which couldn’t be effectively countered, so it was simply discounted and dumped. The planning committee’s apathetic attitude suggested that within the London Borough of Sutton, an objector to a planning application is regarded as an unwelcome pleb: Someone who presents an obstacle between a lazy Councillor and an easy life … and an even easier income for sitting on the planning committee!

I did not feel able to immediately make public this planning committee farce for several reasons and the most significant was the Green Lane mosque appeal: Underpinning a widely supported campaign against the appeal was our own Councillors’ claim that there was already a lack of parking in Worcester Park. Yet here, this library garden application explicitly reduced parking spaces and (as Cllr. Paul Winfield’s statement on the petition forewarned us), all six local Councillors supported this reduction.

Whether all six local Councillors were casually flippant or deliberately dishonest in supporting the reduction in parking spaces, whilst simultaneously claiming there were already insufficient parking facilities when it came to the mosque appeal is something that only the six Councillors know. However, I witnessed the planning committee adopting this library car park as their own and embrace it, as if Councillors were consciously extending their middle fingers in the face of our Worcester Park community. [Or so it seemed].

However tempting it was to spill the beans on this inept performance, I was well aware how controversial it could be for the (then) concurrent mosque appeal: It offered hard evidence that when it came to another planning application, (which wasn’t a mosque), local Councillors not only considered there was an excess of local parking spaces, but had embraced an agenda to actively reduce them. To minimise the risk of influencing the mosque appeal, (no doubt to be blamed by Councillors for publishing their own absurd and self-contradictory statements), I have delayed following up on the library garden, until now.

In slower time, I will provide readers with a more comprehensive, detailed narrative of the written and spoken evidence presented to and entirely rejected by the planning committee. This evidence can be used as criteria, against which, the library garden that has been foisted upon our community can be assessed. In addition, the same evidence can also be used to assess the associated performance, judgement and suitability of our local Councillors.

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