Town parish to defer skate park application for group

Memorial Playing Field in Steyning
Memorial Playing Field in Steyning

Steyning parish council voted to defer their application for building a skateboarding facility on the Memorial Playing Field this week.

The ‘special resolution’ was passed at an extraordinary meeting held on Tuesday (June 11) at the Steyning Centre with over 30 residents in attendance, including Friends of Memorial Playing Field (FoMPF) members.

The parish’s resolution came in two parts. The first was to agree to postpone submitting its application until September 30, allowing time for FoMPF to pursue their own application that proposes an alternative site.

The second part offered the attendance of parish council members at any meetings that the action group may hold with other officials.

At the start of the meeting, newly elected parish councillor Gill Muncey declared that although she acted as the treasurer of the FoMPF, she has since resigned her position and is ‘predisposed but not predetermined’ on the subject of the skate park.

County councillor and previous Steyning parish council chairman, David Barling, said at the meeting that the parish council had received a letter from FoMPF chairman that stated there was ‘no point’ in deferring the application.

He said: “I’ve been on a journey with this. I spoke candidly at the last meeting, but I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to say.

“The people of Steyning need to know what is going on.”

Mr Barling also said at the meeting that ‘intimidating emails’ from the FoMPF vice chairman have caused the ‘depletion of the parish’s reserves’.

He said at the meeting that one of the emails sent to the parish council threatened ‘further litigation’.

Mr Barling said that the FoMPF’s application, which proposes building the skateboarding facility by the Steyning Leisure Centre is ‘fundamentally flawed’.

“I’m going to have to vote against this because it will achieve nothing.

“We should stick to our guns. I’m not going to be constantly intimidated by these threats.”

District councillor Sue Rogers added that the FoMPF’s application is ‘premature’.

However, both parts of the ‘special resolution’ were passed by the parish.

After the meeting, FoMPF vice chairman Paul Campbell said that he was ‘bemused’ by the decision.

He continued to say that the FoMPF did not ask for the deferral and that his litigation is a ‘personal’ case and does not involve the group.

Steyning Parish Council chairman Phil Bowell released a statement prior to the meeting to explain why the parish had ‘rejected’ the application.

Mr Bowell said: “We could not get agreement from the stake holders to make space available at the Steyning Leisure Centre. The field opposite was also rejected due to safety of children accessing the site across a busy road.

“The parish said they would not withdraw the current application for the site, because if the leisure centre site failed we would be left with nothing as a community.”