I am delighted to welcome a new guest blogger Cliftonville West Labour Councillor Doug Clark who piublishes an open letter to his fellow councillors on Thanet District Council's plans to give away an open green space to developers.
I’m afraid I am unable to attend the TDC Planning Committee on 15th September so I would therefore like to inform you of my serious concerns regarding the development of the much loved and well used green open space in Dalby Square, Cliftonville.
Firstly, this public green open space provides opportunities for social interaction, physical activity and play and general enhancement of the local environment. It also improves the quality of life of our residents by providing space for social interaction, especially for children, in an area dominated by densely situated and internally cramped living conditions.
Fighting obesity, especially in children is a particular problem for us here in Cliftonville West. The green space currently provides physical and mental health benefits which improve the health of our residents through the ability for children to ‘let off steam’ in a positive manner and stressed adults to simply take a break, rest and unwind in the open air.
Suggestions have been made that there are other places nearby for children to play, namely the small playground at the other end of the square and the Viking Playground on the seafront. The playground at the other end of the square is small and for ‘tiny tots’ only, with small apparatus for very young children. The Viking Playground is around the corner and across a very busy and dangerous main road. Consequently it is only really suitable to be visited with parents. This playground is also covered with apparatus, indeed another open green space was lost when it was created, and so ball games would be extremely dangerous and practically impossible in both the areas suggested.
My ward colleagues and residents will no doubt expand on these matters at the planning committee meeting but as a Justice of the Peace of twenty eight years and the Chairman of the Cliftonville Police and Communities Together (PACT), I am particularly concerned about the knock-on effect that taking away the green could have on anti-social behaviour in our ward.
Groups of children from many different backgrounds come together on the large green open space in Dalby Square and iron out their differences in a positive manner using a ball and in a spirit of sportsmanship instead of ‘running gangs’ in a concrete jungle.
I simply cannot express strongly enough just how important this green is in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour in an area where it has even proved necessary to create a special Task Force!
Cllr Douglas Clark JP