A recent press release from the Dalby Square Project Group' appears to have been widely distributed to local blogs and the media and claims a ' Multicultural Meeting Place Under Threat''
The press release email states: "Jenny Cranstone of the Dalby Square Project group, which has been widely praised for its work in improving the square, said: “If this land is lost, where else can our young people safely play?”
The green has been praised as a valuable meeting place and recreational area – in particular helping bridge gaps between local people and multicultural newcomers to the square. All this, residents fear, is now at risk.
She said: “All ages, but particularly the young people see this land as their own area. When they heard of plans to build, they were not just dismayed at another council plan to put money over welfare, they were angry and determined to campaign to stop it.”
This subject was of course debated at last week's Cabinet meeting but the contents of the release by Jenny Cranstone, which complains of a lack of consultation and more, has prompted a swift reaction from Leader of Thanet Council, Bob Bayford, who clearly wishes to put the record straight. He writes:
"I feel compelled to respond to the email and set out the council's position. It's really frustrating that people are being misled in this way over plans to 'take away their community green'.
Not only has this land been clearly designated for housing in Thanet's current local plan since 2006, but the area is also extremely well served by two play areas - one of which is in Dalby Square itself (see photo).
The second is a state-of-the-art play area - the Viking playground - funded by the council and central government. This is less than two minutes walk away from Dalby Square.
Furthermore, to say that there has been a lack of consultation is simply not true. The council has carried out a number of high-profile consultations regarding the future of the site as part of its asset management programme and the development of the Local Plan. In addition, both the Viking play area and the one in Dalby Square itself had a high degree of residents' input.
The applicants are a housing association and the proposed scheme will provide high quality social housing. It will provide 32 units of housing and as we have c.4,000 people on the waiting list the need for this scheme is unanswerable."