Bid to stop the sale of valuable open spaces

An e-petition has been launched to stop councils selling off  prime sites like Pier Field in Skegness . ANL-151228-112144001
An e-petition has been launched to stop councils selling off prime sites like Pier Field in Skegness . ANL-151228-112144001
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A bid to stop councils selling off public open spaces has been launched by a Skegness man.

Speared on by East Lindsey’s decision to sell off the Pier Field to Premier Inn, James Hardaker is seeking 100,000 signatures for an e-petition to get the matter debated in parliament.

Mr Hardaker said: “This petition asks for an amendment to the law, prohibiting councils from selling recreational open spaces without first holding a local referendum and securing a majority vote in favour.

“Open spaces are for the benefit of all and it is the public who should hold a power of veto over their disposal.

“The current right to challenge does not go far enough since it requires community groups to purchase open spaces in order to save them.

“This is unfair and puts the public at a disadvantage, effectively playing them off against commercial purchasers who can easily afford to outbid them. This proposal would ensure that no open space could be sold off unless the public considered it surplus to requirements.”

Mr Hardaker believes open spaces are meant to be there for all of us, to promote outdoor activities.

He said: “Clearly there are some open spaces that are redundant and could be better used for something else, but I don’t think it should be the councils who decide that.

“I’d like to think my petition is moderate enough to be taken seriously.

“It doesn’t ask the Government to block all sale of open spaces, but just to let the public decide.

“What I don’t like about the Pier Field situation is the way it’s suddenly gone from being an open space designed to be maintained ‘for ever after’ as recreational ground, to just another piece of land to be sold off for development. Perhaps it’s under-used, but it’s also under-marketed.

“I have nothing against Premier Inn and would love to see them somewhere else in town, but I’d be unhappy with any development that didn’t at least leave some open space available.”

To sign the e-petition, visit www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/116204