Hands Off Estover: Deputy mayor calls for support for protest march to protect playing fields for the future

Estover Playing Field. Picture: TREVOR WATSON

Estover Playing Field. Picture: TREVOR WATSON - Credit: Archant

People are being urged to join a peaceful protest through Cambridge to attend a meeting about the future of Estover playing field.

The deputy mayor of March, Councillor Rob Skoulding, is rallying people to join him on the march to prove to county councillors there is strong local support to preserve the fields for future generations.

“It’s important to make our views known - once land is gone it is gone forever,” he said.

“If people could make banners it would be helpful. This isn’t just for us - this is for our children and our children’s children. We must keep our assets.

“It is not just relevant for the town of March either, across Cambridgeshire land is being sold off as the county fights budget cuts, but once gone it cannot be brought back, houses are built then it is too late and it is a facility lost to the town.

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“We haven’t got enough playing areas as it is - to lose Estover playing fields would be a disaster,” he said.

The rally cry comes after Estover Road, which is owned by Cambridgeshire County Council, was put forward as being “surplus to requirements” during a meeting of the county General Purposes Committee in December.

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Officers asked members to “authorise disposal of the property.”

However, the decision was put off until January 27 after councillors agreed the “importance of listening to local voices and receiving further information.”

Cllr Skoulding is urging people to join him on the 7.30am train to Cambridge on January 27 arriving in the city at 8.15am.

The march will them make its way from the station through the city to County Hall for 9am ready for the general purposes meeting at 10am.

Cllr Skoulding said: “To councillors from other areas in Cambridgeshire Estover will mean nothing, we need to show how important it is to us as residents of March.”

The rally is the next step in a ‘Hands Off Estover’ campaign launched last month at a public meeting which unanimously condemned proposals to use a windfall loophole to sacrifice half the playing field for homes.

During that meeting Clive Lemmon, town clerk, said a vote of town councillors showed 11-1 against any development of Estover.

This would be reflected in the forthcoming neighbourhood plan, he said, and any attempt to build there would trigger a public inquiry under localism legislation.

He felt most people would support plans to transfer ownership to some form of community or charitable trust and develop Estover for sport and recreation.

All that was needed, he said, was for the county council “to talk sensibly on price”.

A minibus is leaving the Oliver Cromwell Hotel on the day while Cllr Skoulding is joining the 7.30am train. For details contact him at the hotel or email rskoulding@aol.com

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