The Labour group moved a motion at full council on Thursday 6th September, asking the cabinet to reconsider their proposals to build a new school on Lake Farm Country Park. The Conservatives voted through a last minute amendment, calling for the Labour Group to submit a list of alternative sites that the cabinet would then distribute in the local area.
I consider this to be nothing more than a cynical attempt to create divisions within the local community, thus taking the focus off the real issue of the ruling Conservative group building on greenbelt land.
The amended motion’s commitment for transparent and open governance only extends to the Cabinet making public the opposition Labour Group’s suggestions, whilst the 17 sites that the Cabinet have already considered remain secret. No doubt this is so that those sites can be earmarked for future potential development. As Labour Members mentioned in debate the green spaces in Hayes are gradually being eroded and the reluctance of the cabinet to make their secret dossier of 17 sites public does not convince us that they are serious about protecting our parks and green spaces from development.
Once again the Conservatives in Hillingdon have shown complete and utter contempt for the residents by playing a cynical political game. We will not allow the Tories to divert the focus away from their plans to build on a much loved country park within the greenbelt.
We are just as committed as anyone else to ensure that every child in Hillingdon has a decent school place, but it should also be considered that since the announcement of the Tories plans to build on the greenbelt, we have had an extensive school expansion programme, plus new “free schools” in the pipeline, some of which are very close to one or two of the Tories secret list of potential sites.
If the Conservatives were actually interested in working constructively with us, they would have supported our original motion, called a halt to the planning process, reconfirmed the need for a new school in light of other proposed new schools and engaged the local community in the process of re-examining all possible sites.
There is a plaque in Lake Farm that names local people who’s tenacity over a 10 year campaign finally saw the land protected from development and declared a country park, opened in 2002 by the then Deputy Mayor of Hillingdon Cllr Alf Langley, the other names on the plaque are Dot Dell, Sue Dobson, Mavis Hammond and Kathy Cooke. Now a further 10 years on we see this cherished, green flag status, country park under threat of development again, but this time it’s the Tory Council proposing the development. Do they really have such little regard for the hard work of our dedicated community minded people that they are willing to see such a hard fought campaign brushed to one side in the name of political expediency.
Cllr Peter Curling
Leader of the Labour Group
London Borough of Hillingdon