Community comes together to Show Strength of Feeling

The Friends of Horfield Common have led a powerful campaign with fellow local groups to try and prevent the sale of the Wellington Hill Playing Field (WHPF) and potential loss of the bowling green and tennis courts facilities at the Ardagh, which are proposed in the council’s Area Green Space Plans (AGSP). The council’s proposal involves around 60 sites across Bristol deemed to be of low value or under used. The sale of this land could generate 90 million pounds to fund improvements in other parks and open spaces in the city. The protest against these plans to sell off precious local green space culminated with over one hundred local people gathering on College Green for a Horfield Common Show of Strength of Feeling.

This protest on Thursday 28th October 2010 marked the close of the city-wide consultation on Friday 29th 2010. The Friends, along with other local residents, members of Horfield Young People’s Club, 105th Rainbows, 101st Brownies, and 62nd Bristol Scout Group,were just some of those who united to deliver their responses to the AGSP.

The campaign to save green spaces in the area has received support from councillors in Horfield, Bishopston and Henleaze. Councillors Ann, Levy, Morgan, Knott and Willingham have all attended meetings, talked to local residents and other users of the Common and explored how the Ardagh can be invested in and maintained for use into the future.

On Friday 29th October 2010 a representative of Bristol City Council (BCC) was a guest on ITV evening news. When questioned on the closure of the Wellington Hill Site he stated that the consultation process had strongly indicated that the use of this particular green space by the local community had been underestimated in the initial plans. There is now strong hope that this part of the common will remain open to the general public but this will not be confirmed until December 16th 2010 when the AGSP results are released. The interview can be viewed on the FOHC website.

Friend Sam Thomson who has worked tirelessly on this campaign told me,

The Show of Strength of Feeling on College Green was really well attended and it was fantastic that it received such a high level of support. The number of people who came really underlines the strength of feeling that there is amongst local residents, families and groups about the proposals to sell Wellington Hill Playing Field and decommission of the facilities at the Ardagh. It was brilliant to see a strong turn out making sure that local people’s views were visible and it is clear from the responses that have been made by BCC to date that this has been noticed and that local people’s views are being listened to through the AGSP consultation. We’re just keeping everything possible crossed that the outcome to the consultation is the one that we want. These facilities are so important, losing them would be an absolute disaster for the local area and the strength of the campaign against the proposals since they were first published in June has emphasised that.

The Friends are intending to have a celebration event at the Ardagh Club on December 17th 2010 if the campaign is a success (the final decision on whether WHPF has been saved will be published in early December and agreed by BCC formally on the 16th). Full details of the family friendly event will be on the Friends website nearer the time. Local people and groups have worked extremely hard together to make sure people’s views have been heard in relation to these plans and they want to have a good old knees up to celebrate the power of that collective voice, which they hope has been heard loud and clear in relation to WHPF and the Ardagh!

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