2, 2016 Council
slams 'diversionary tactics' as it rejects deal on Apex Park
and Highbridge Town Council has this week firmly rejected a proposal
for it to take over the management of the town's Apex Park.
night's debate follows Sedgemoor District Council asking the Town Council to consider "taking over the financial
and physical management of the park in its entirety as an asset".
proposal comes at a time when controversial proposals by Sedgemoor
to lease the park's BMX track to holiday firm Bourne Leisure in
a 50-year deal to enable it to set up 16 new holiday homes on the
site are still up in the air.
Phil Harvey told Monday's meeting: "What we have here is
a diversionary tactic from Sedgemoor - it is, to quote a phrase
from Lynton Crosby, a 'dead cat strategy' where they have thrown
the cat on the table of the Town Council in order to get
us to take on the management of the park and divert attention
from whether they should or should not continue the contract discussions with Bourne Leisure."
think it would be totally inappropriate for us to take on the
ownership of Apex. We have to consider the money and there is
no way we could run Apex Park for in the region of £100,000-£150,000
a year and I am sure our rate payers would not want us to take
this on. It is not value for money. I think we should also be
very clear that we do not want the lease for the BMX park transferred
to Bourne Leisure."
Cllr Janet Keen added: "It is entirely inappropriate that
such a park as Apex should come under the control of a parish
or town council. Apex is unique in that it is large and extremely
complex and it has very important varieties of living environments
"The upkeep and maintenance and administration of such a
complex and large property is financially beyond even a large
parish such as us," she said.
"Sedgemoor already has the administrative staff to manage
Apex properly and I think their proposal to us was simply a diversion
to try and get out of solving a complex problem, or question,
posed by an outside commercial body. I have seen nothing that
has persuaded me that it would be in any way a benefit to the
town, the park or the users if it was passed to us."
former Burnham and Highbridge Mayor Cllr Martin Cox took a different
view, telling Monday's debate: "Apex Park is a jewel in the
crown of Highbridge and I think we all recognise the benefits
of it with the various sports and activities that go on there.
But I am very much of the opinion that Bourne Leisure should be
allowed to have this land providing they improve the facilities
of the park."
Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said the proposal to take on the
park could not be considered given the lack of detail from Sedgemoor.
"We have had no real facts and figures to support a decision
like this and do it professionally. I totally disagree with taking
over the Apex and I certainly would not want to see any land disappear
- in particular the BMX track. I think it would be a slippery
slope to let that go and I'm sure that would leak them to ask
for just a little more to go in the future," he said.
Cllr Paul Young added: "I am surprised that Sedgemoor have
not given us any proper financial figures with this proposal.
To say 'just take over the park' is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous."
John Parkes, right, said he has lodged a Freedom of Information
request with Sedgemoor District Council to seek a verbatim report
from its Executive Meeting on December where the park plans were
initially discussed. He claims a further option about Apex Park's
future was disregarded.
Andrew Gilling proposed at the Executive meeting that the BMX
area of the park - or even the whole park - be handed over to
the Town Council. I am absolutely bemused that the option was
never mentioned in the minutes or even in the letter to the Town
Council even though it may have been an attractive option,"
said Cllr Parkes told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
Cllr Mike Facey added: "Personally, I can see advantages
to us a Town Council if the park were managed in a better way.
I would like to see some way we could work with the district to
see if there is a viable business plan in relation to the BMX
park. Everybody could financially make a gain by possibly disposing
of that unit, but that is something that we could never discuss
properly and Sedgemoor are not prepared to discuss at the moment."
Andy Brewer added: "We are very concerned about the future
of Apex Park. It is maintained and managed to a high standard
at the moment and that's what we wish to see continue. Given that,
it would be very difficult for us to take on that responsibility
and maintain those high standards."
Councillors voted in favour of writing back to Sedgemoor District
Council, telling them they are not interested in taking over Apex
Park with the proviso that the Town Council would like to consider
the future of the park.
the BMX plans eventually do go ahead, Burnham BMX Club would relocate
from Apex Park to a bigger site near to the Oaktree Arena at Edithmead.
proposed the existing Apex Park ranger building would be refurbished
and enlarged, pictured right, with a new café and
upgraded public conveniences.
to the results of Sedgemoor's consultation survey - which was
carried out last summer - local people are in favour of the Apex
plans. 91% of respondents apparently supported the re-location
of the BMX track. A majority of respondents, almost three quarters
(73%), supported the site being leased to a third party, and there
was a fairly even split between those respondents who lived in
Burnham/Highbridge (47%) who supported the site being leased and
those who did not (53%).
Pictured: The 16 holiday homes that would be built by Bourne
Leisure at Highbridge's Apex Park where the BMX track is currently
located. The BMX club wants to build a new bigger track at a site
near the Oaktree Arena.
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