In regards to St Peters Car Park

In regards to St Peters Car Park

I had no idea the work was happening as the Ward Councillor. Nor did any other Town Councillor to the best of my knowledge. I was as surprised as everybody else.

This morning I have phoned the Officer in charge of the work and spent much time on phone to him getting the information as to what is going on.

I will try and explain what is happening as per what I have been told. I am as frustrated by it as everybody else.

What I have been told:

I am told that this work dates back to a 2002 plan which was agreed and then could not continue because the funding dried up. The Officer have been doing bits and pieces of the work ever since whenever some funding became available.

I am told that this was was considered basically routine maintenance and that is why they did not notify Town Council or any of the Councillors in Town. They did, however, notify the In Bloom volunteers, they say. I am also told that the flowers/plants planted by Street Pride were funding by the office doing the work originally, that all the plants with some worth have been safely removed and can be replanted. Trees that are being removed have been identified by a professional survey as requiring removal as they are sick, or “not thriving.”

I am told that the removal of the bays has been on the cards since 2002 and that it is part of a complete redesign of the layout and markings which will improve the car park and make many more spaces available as the space and layout is currently not optimal. The work also includes relining and resurfacing sections of the car park as part of this.

I am also told that the Officers are very surprised that there has been an outcry over this as they considered it routine work and that they felt that had let the In Bloom team know in good time and also explained to them that the plants would be removed and replanted.

Finally, I am told that the intention is to make new flower bed areas once the work is finished – putting them in the places where the cars cannot park in the new layout.

What I have said:

I have explained that I am very unhappy about not having been notified of this work as the local Ward Councillor and I am sure my other Councillor colleagues feel the same. Had we known in advance we could have warned that they had misunderstood the feelings of local people. We could also have helped them negotiate a plan that would not upset our local volunteers who have spent so much time working on making the car park look nicer.

I have asked the Officer to put everything he has said to me in writing, and when I receive that I will share it with you all.

I did write to the Officers last night asking them to hold off any work until we had time to look at what was going on. Unfortunately, most of the work was done very quickly and those islands are already flattened and bare – ready for their completely removal. The Officer has informed me that none of the larger islands around the edge of the Car Park are being removed, although a piece is to be “cut off” of the edge of the one in the middle which splits the car park in two.

It is very frustrating that this has happened without me being given any notice whatsoever. At a bare minimum I should have been notified long in advance, and in my opinion so should the rest of Town Council. We were not. I cannot turn back the clock, but I will be making it very clear that this is unacceptable and must never, ever happen again. I will write to the Cabinet Member at FDC in the strongest terms, and also raise this as an issue at Wisbech Town Council.

I feel very sorry for the hard-working volunteers who have spent so much time trying to make the car park look nicer. They are true champions of the town and it is, in my opinion, unfair that this has happened in this way. But it appears to boil down to a misunderstanding by Officers as to the level of upset it would cause – one which I have endeavoured to put them straight about.

I am as unhappy as anybody – I live near the car park and use it every day. I liked the islands of green too. But the Car Park *does* need relining and surface work. I just wish they’d considered the possible consequences of the action rather than relying on an old plan without any consultation.