Town consultation needs re-opening

The tone of recent correspondence re the proposed cycle route in Abbey Fields is unwarranted and reflects poorly on the town. More importantly, language such as ‘unchallenged reasoning’ has been used (Weekly News, last year) when the first point to make is that the response to the Town Plan consultation in 2013 was not high.

According to newspaper figures, there were no more than 2,000 responses out of a total population in Kenilworth of 25,000 eligible voters, a turnout of about eight per cent, on the best possible estimate. It would be best if the consultation were re-opened and I have urged Warwick District Labour party to adopt this as a manifesto commitment. The Kenilworth Town Plan is a fundamental issue and I see no useful alternative other than for Labour to engage with it. The consequences for Kenilworth are rather draconian and I support a policy of reviewing the plan where necessary, and I want voters to know that this is what I think and I am brave enough to say it.

On the cycle route, much is made of the concept of running it along the opposite side of the brook to the play area. In my previous letter I did say ‘whether near or through’ so I am not sure the argument is wholly relevant. The bye-law is already broken, so if a cycle route is permitted in what sense, if any, will there be enforcement measures to keep cyclists on the path? If cyclists didn’t respect it would it matter which route it took? Also, the route taken is irrelevant to the fact that an exit near the Brookside Avenue junction is apparently going to be installed. The exit from Brookside Avenue is already hard to emerge from in a car, with Forrest Road linking up too with Borrowell Lane above it, and people concerned that the area is cramped and not well suited for the encouragement of high speed cycling I’m afraid do have a legitimate objection.

It is not the majority of cyclists who cycle responsibly which concerns me, but the exceptional cyclist riding at high speed through lack of care, and what this could entail. Given the risk I am simply not persuaded that the tarmac or concrete which would be placed across the park is justified, and I am willing to say so.

People think there would be no conflict with young children but I disagree; the play area is centrally located and this is not at all the case in an area like Brueton and Malvern Park in Solihull where the play area is ‘compartmentalised’ off to one side of the park. Some of your respondents rather snidely insisted I was against young children learning to cycle in the fields, but I think most residents accept that a few children using stabilisers is not at all the same thing as constructing a high speed commuter route.

There is an alternative: build up the Abbey Fields play area, given this is so popular, and let those who have given so much time in their painstaking and very dedicated efforts to conserve wildlife habitats in the Fields continue unimpeded. I think this work is of far more environmental benefit.

Kenilworth needs other things doing beyond a cycle route, for instance more attention to other sports and the quality of the facilities we have in the town itself. A vote for me at any subsequent election in Kenilworth is a vote for someone with integrity who will set out to reflect the needs of the community as a whole and is prepared to stomach unpopularity in order to get the right outcomes.

I reiterate to your readers that I am prepared to listen to their concerns and I support comprehensive review of the Town Plan.

Joshua Payne, Albion Street, Kenilworth