AN ONLINE campaign to protect Stone’s Westbridge Park from housing or retail development has netted more than 500 supporters in just over 24 hours.
The “Keep Westbridge Green” campaign is the first e-petition request Stafford Borough Council has ever received for its website.
The petition went live on Tuesday morning and was submitted by Stone town councillor Rob Kenney, in response to proposals for Westbridge Park included in Stafford Borough Council’s local plan.
Last week’s Newsletter reported that the park, used for community events including this weekend’s Food and Drink Festival and Stone Carnival, has been identified as a potential site for “mixed use development” in the plan.
Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet is due to consider the plan at a meeting tonight and residents are due to be consulted in the new year.
But many have already voiced their opposition to retail or residential development on the park.
Stone resident Raymond Bryce said: “If you take the park out of Stone you take out the heart of Stone.”
Councillor Kenney said: “We ask that Stafford Borough Council withdraw their proposal for provision of mixed use development at Westbridge Park from the Plan for Stafford Borough.
“The park hosts a number of festivals and events which are crucial to the local economy.
“It is home to the Scout, Cubs and Beavers headquarters at the Pump House and also the Wells Bladen Guide headquarters used by Guides, Brownies and Rainbows.
“Westbridge Park is a recreational green used by many sporting clubs and there is no other green area in Stone suitable to accommodate all of the above.
Westbridge Park is Stone’s village green, the heart of its community and regularly used by all age groups. It forms part of the Trent Valley green corridor, an area of natural beauty.”
Stone's Conservative group said yesterday that the town's Conservative councillors agreed with their colleagues that no development should take place without the consent of the people of Stone and that the borough council should work with Stone Town Council in compiling the plan.
Roger Barnard, Chairman of Stone Conservatives added: "Our Conservative councillors will stand up for what is best for Stone"
But borough council leader Mike Heenan said: “The local plan is evolving and we will not do anything without full consultation with the people and businesses of Stone,” he said.
“I’d ask those who want to have an input in the future of their area to wait and see what any proposals will be, and feedback in to a proper consultation, before speculating or reacting to ill-informed comments.”