December 10, 2015
Council attacked over Apex Park BMX plans as final decision is delayed

Burnham and Highbridge Town Council is to be invited to take over the management of Apex Park, it has emerged this week, as a decision over the future lease of the BMX track was delayed to February.

Controversial proposals to grant Bourne Leisure a 50-year ground lease for the existing BMX cycling site, allowing it to site 16 caravans there, were considered at Sedgemoor District Council’s Executive meeting on Wednesday (December 9th).

Sedgemoor District Council was attacked by two residents over the proposals, who questioned the validity of the public consultation carried out over the summer, which indicated local people are in favour of the plans.

At Wednesday's meeting, councillors considered the outcome of the consultation and the next steps.

Sedgemoor spokeswoman Claire Faun told "There was nearly half an hour of debate and members of the Sedgemoor Executive questioned whether Burnham and Highbridge Town Council would be interested in taking over the financial and physical management of the park in its entirety, as it is an asset within their area."

"It was decided to put that question to them, as the local representatives of the area affected, with a response due back to Sedgemoor District Council by the end of January 2016. Dependent upon their response, a further report will be considered by Sedgemoor’s Executive in February 2016."

Two members of the public, Brian Burt and Highbridge town councillor John Parkes, spoke during the meeting.

Mr Burt told councillors: "Bourne, it seems, are being provided with a site orchestrated to their specifaction - all to enable 16 caravans to be added to their existing 800 caravans. Does Burnham actually need more caravans at such a cost to Apex?"

Cllr Parkes, right, questioned the consultation, saying: "There have been concerns expressed that the 'consultation' has been superficial and inadequate. Local people are asking the Executive to consider a proper public consultation with all parties able to participate and actually obtain a true representation of opinion and formulate an outcome that will benefit our communities for years to come."

"There ia a real suspicion that the 'consultation' process has been designed to roll-up the proposal and planning processes in the public view to minimise objections. Indeed, the consensus view locally is that no 'consultation' would have taken place at all prior to the planning decision had public pressure not been brought to bear."

He went on to say that the proposed lease 'deal' represents poor value for local people. "Does this deal represent value for money to Sedgemoor? Of course it doesn't," he claimed. "The costs asociated with relocating the BMX track and the costs of the works on the existing Apex buildings would see total costs for both in the region of less than £500k. However, what are the benefits to Bourne Leisure - the gain of a site for 16 or 17 static caravans. If we assume rents of £5,000 on each one per year that would be an income of £4 million. Even allowing for the costs involved in servicing these caravans, this seems a very good bargain for Bourne Leisure and a really poor one for Sedgemoor."

He added that the community "would definitely lose out in the loss of land for recreational use at least for 50 years," and concluded: "Apex is a much-valued local facility, our jewel in the crown, and any such monies should be spent for the benefit of the park or at least for the benefit of Highbridge residents."


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