October 6, 2015
'Veil of secrecy' on Apex Park BMX plans attacked as council votes

Town councillors have this week voted to formally oppose controversial proposals to lease part of Apex Park to holiday firm Bourne Leisure in a 50-year deal.

Proposals to grant Bourne Leisure a 50-year ground lease for the existing BMX cycling site at Apex Park were opposed by town councillors at a meeting on Monday evening (October 5th).

Local resident Brian Burt, right, urged councillors: "Please do not let any part of Apex Park be turned into a caravan park. The district council purchased and developed Apex for the benefit of local people, therefore every square metre should be retained for future generations. More so now, considering the hundreds of homes to be constructed in Highbridge."

"Sedgemoor's proposal is to rob Apex Park of a second area which is twice the size of the existing car park. It would become a 'no go area' for 50 years, if not forever, full of more caravans."

Highbridge councillor John Parkes described Apex park as Highbridge's "jewel in the crown" and hit out at Sedgemoor District Council's lack of consultation over the plans for the site.

"There has been a veil of secrecy - I first brought the plan to the public's attention. It was hidden deep in an agenda item in a Sedgemoor Exceutive meeting several months ago," he claimed.

"I am of the opinion that as a council we need to oppose any move to transfer the land to Bourne Leisure. I think the BMX club is a red herring here - if they want to relocate elsewhere that's a separate issue - and I think the land should be returned to its former use for the community of Highbridge and Burnham-On-Sea."

Cllr Martin Cox said he would like to see the BMX park site being turned into a "community ampitheatre" in the future for the benefit of local people.

He added: "I just feel there has to be a very, very good offer from Bourne for us to give up that land - I don't feel they should have a lease for anything like 50 years."

Cllr Hogarth said there remain "lots of unanswered questions" for him about the proposals, but that on balance he "would reject the proposals."

Cllr Harvey proposed that the Town Council "expresses opposition to the lease or transfer of land by the District Council to Bourne Leisure and that the whole of Apex Park remains for the people of Burnham and Highbridge."

All voted in favour of the motion to oppose the plans, except Cllr Cox who abstained.

A Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman told "The land that the BMX Track is situated on within Apex Park is leased from Sedgemoor District Council. The BMX track and land are not available for public use but are used by the club for training and events. The BMX Club would like to expand and are considering relocating to a different site locally, thus terminating their current lease. This proposal would exclude housing developments as the land will not be sold but leased on a long-term basis."

"The district council - in exchange for offering a 50-year lease to another party for the BMX site - could secure some funding to enhance the facilities in the park, for example creating an all-weather year-round café facility, improving the toilet facilities and/or extending the park building to allow for increased educational and event use."

The proposals are next due to be considered in November by Sedgemoor's Executive. Video footage of the debate appears below:



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