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Sense of Shock,Disappointment and Betrayal over New Lodge Development.

posted 10 Sep 2010, 04:43 by David Gilroy   [ updated 14 Sep 2010, 09:13 ]
Our own Vanessa Gregory has a whole column regarding the new Lodge development in this week's Herts Advertiser newspaper ,9th September 2010 on page 11. The full text can be found on www.herts24.co.uk but is also reproduced below.

Sir -I felt a sense of shock, disappointment and betrayal when I and a number of acquaintances found out on Bank Holiday Monday that we had been, seemingly, misled by our council’s cabinet and certain officers for a number of years on ‘material facts’, pertaining the proposals for the new sports and leisure facilities at Westminster Lodge. 

The leader of the council, portfolio holders and officers alike have stated, repeatedly and unequivocally, both verbally and in reports, that the ASA would not support a 50 metre pool in St Albans.  Indeed in an e-mail to me in August 2009 the then relevant portfolio holder wrote “…the ASA have declared that The University of Herts is their preferred location for a 50 m pool and that they would not support one in St Albans.” 

 

Therefore it was genuinely one of those jaw dropping moments when I and others read e-mail correspondence with Mr David Sparkes, Chief Executive of the Amateur Swimming Association, in which he completely refutes what the cabinet have put forward, constantly, to counter their detractors. 

I and others felt these “statements” should be placed in the public domain as soon as possible; I therefore sought and received his permission to do so.  They are as follows;

 “We have been involved in the St Albans project and we were very clear we would have preferred the council to look at a community 50m pool which we felt would offer better value for money. A flexible 50m pool offers with moving floors and booms the opportunity to plan for better swimming provision for the community throughout the day.”

 

He went on to say; “The Council met with me and other colleagues and whilst we supported keeping the pool building a similar size we felt that a 50m facility would offer a better option for the community within the proposed budget. I gather after my meeting the consultants did some further work and felt that this would increase the cost of the project which surprised us.”

 

The cabinet have, to my mind, steamrollered their plans through, ridden roughshod over residents’ views, manipulated rules governing probity and twisted advice to get their own way. This is no longer a matter of being for or against the mix or size of the facilities; it is a matter of trust.  Now the true facts are out in the open; I have provided copies of the e-mail correspondence to this newspaper to prove I have not selectively quoted or taken Mr Sparkes comments out of context. 

 

What happens now, might hang on the integrity of all non executive councillors in calling this cabinet finally to account on this issue, who I believe have brought the whole council into disrepute. 

The precedent set by Cllrs Brazier and Donald at the planning meeting just days before local elections to force through their plans, does not bode well in believing they consider anything wrong in employing any means to achieve their political ambitions.  

Each and every councillor, I believe, must now judge and be accountable in due course to their electorate on whether they are complicit with this modus operandi.  I and others will be watching the next full council meeting with very keen interest.

 

VANESSA GREGORY Tennyson Road , St.Albans.

 
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