Regular visitors to the site will be aware that the branch has been helping with the campaign to save green belt land at Lake Farm in Hayes.
Hillingdon council have steamrollered through development of a new primary school on the site in spite of numerous brown field sites being available.
Yesterday, a march was organised by local MP John McDonnell from the town centre to Lake Farm to highlight this issue once again with UKIP Hillingdon members meeting other protesters by the band stand at 12pm (Above)
There was a slight delay as members of the Heathrow Transition Group made their way by bike to join everyone else before departure – They brought some colourful banners with them as can be seen in the pictures below with local Labour group leader Peter Curling.
A number of local councillors were in evidence, including Lynne Allen, Janet Gardiner, Phoday Jarjussey and June Nelson.
John McDonnell then led us off, with the three banners at the head of the parade – The smaller ‘We love Hayes’ one up front, with myself and Bryan Tomlinson carrying the third banner proclaiming ‘parks not profit’ .
This banner is a reference to the fact that the Council are selling off the land where the old swimming pool used to be to developers to build a Lidl supermarket – Interestingly enough, this land was ruled out at the council meeting back in the Spring as a site for the school as it is ‘contaminated’, a claim disputed by a former maintenance contractor at the pool. Surely nothing to do with the council being able to sell brown field but not green field sites for development?
With the MP leading the calls to ‘Save our park’ and ‘save Lake Farm’ via his megaphone, the march made it’s way towards the country park – It wasn’t long before myself and Bryan got our banner caught in an overhead obstruction, leading to a call of ‘save our trees’ from Mr McDonnell and a fair amount of laughter from the following procession!
Further mishaps avoided, we took up position on the green at the front of the fences erected by the building contractors and we were given an update as to the current position with regards to saving the land. (Above Left)
Construction work has already started, with fences erected around the perimeter of the works as part of the land is cleared.
The familiar Skylark statue now peeks above the fences and looks rather sad at the impending fate of the park. (below)
It was pointed out that a legal challenge to the work is still ongoing, but that the council have ignored it and pushed ahead with construction – The position re this is laid out below as explained on the day and also on the Save Lake Farm website
Campaigners and the Friends of Lake Farm are challenging the Council’s decision to build on Lake Farm Country Park because the council has failed to follow the proper procedures laid down in legislation when considering the impact of building on the country park.
The council is required in law to undertake a full impact assessment including an equalities impact assessment. The Council has breached this procedure by failing to undertake this assessment. Local labour councillors and the Friends of Lake Farm took legal advice from Irwin Mitchell solicitors and consider that they have the grounds to challenge the council in the courts. Irwin Mitchell Solicitors have been successful in the past in challenging Hillingdon Council for its failure to abide by procedure.
It was also brought up that the Council are now consulting about additional secondary school places to cope with demand – One of the fears that had been voiced at the meetings about Lake Farm is that if they are putting 650 children here in a Primary school, then what happens when they get to secondary school age? It is not a great leap of imagination to think that the council will come back and take more of the park to build on for this too, despite the brown field sites available.
Indeed, John McDonnell advised us that he had spoken to the developers on the EMI site in Hayes the previous week and they had been amenable to a school going in to their development. It begs the question as to why the Council didn’t think to put that in the planning requirement rather than go after the green belt?
With Nestles scheduled to close their plant in the near future with the Birmingham relocation, maybe the planning department should be looking to put the secondary school in the requirements for redevelopment of that site?
When the speeches finished, some of the protestors decided to remove the metal fencing surrounding the wooden fences that had been erected on the edge of the park.
A security guard peered over the top of the fences and shouted that he had called the Police because they were committing ‘criminal damage’ – I commented to Helen, John McDonnell’s assistant, that the real criminal damage was being committed behind the fences.
At this point, a young lady with a high vis bib with ‘legal observer’ on the back started handing out cards with details of what to do if arrested.
Within 5 minutes, a Police van turned up followed soon after by a squad car.
Three security guards then approached the officers, and one of them came over to talk to the group.
Hilariously, the Police had been told by the security team that the protesters had chainsaws with them!
This prompted some laughter, and John McDonnell quipped to Helen that she should pass the item to the officers!
With our point made, the banners were folded up and the crowd dispersed leaving the security guards to ponder how to put the metal fences back up again.
Another view of the day’s events (With superior photographs) can be viewed here
Lake Farm – You can get involved
If you feel strongly about preserving our local green spaces, please visit the following sites which give details of upcoming events surrounding the campaign