Monday, 2 November 2009

DIsquiet over consultation process

Committee members of the JGA have written to the city council as we are concerned
about the current consultation over the new Jesus Green plans

The council is consulting a whole range of different organisations and groups, but the
JGA (set up as an independent voice to represent those with an interest in JG) has not been included in the list of those to be consulted.

The only mention of the JGA in the document is under 'Report' is where we learn that a report of the findings will be distributed to JGA (among others).

This only reinforces our suspicion that the council is trying to sideline the Association while driving an agenda that we might not want to support.

The play area questionnaire seems to cover the key questions but we are concerned about the following question in the extremely brief skateboard area questionnaire:
> "Would you like to see some equipment aimed at teenagers on Jesus Green?"
> Yes/No "If yes, what kind of equipment would you like to see?"

It seems pretty obvious that the answer will be "Yes" and that this will provide the council with the 'evidence' it needs to justify the creation of the 'adventure pay area' that keeps cropping up - in the lottery bid, the priorities list etc.

We have always expressed concern about this because details of what the council has in mind have never been forthcoming and we have doubts about whether such a thing is appropriate for the Green. The question of whether or not Jesus Green is the right place for something like this has never been raised by the council or discussed.

Although the framework is headed: "Consultation with children, young people and parents/carers re Jesus Green Play Park and Skate ramp" the very loaded question about equipment aimed at teenagers makes it clear that the council's thinking extends well beyond these two areas.

It would be worth reminding ourselves of the strongly supported views expressed at the JGA's two recent and well attended public meetings - our AGM on Tuesday 2 December last year and our extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday 17 March. The minutes of the AGM include this statement

" . . . there was much desire for maintenance and improvement of what
exists, but great dislike of novelty . . ."

A document opposing development of the Green, including an adventure play area, but supporting conservation, preservation and regular effective maintenance (incl skate board and children's play areas) was unanimously adopted at our EGM

Our next AGM will be on Thursday 3 December at which it would be good to express gratitude and support for things that the Association has been pressing for. However, we shall not hesitate to offer our members the chance to discuss issues that are of concern such as any plans to 'develop' the Green.

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