Group of park volunteers in threat to disband over ‘arrogant’ council

Wednesday 7 May 2014

A VOLUNTEERS’ group which aims to improve a public park is considering disbanding after claiming to have been ignored by the local authority that set it up.
East Renfrewshire Council plans to build a new £22 million high school in Cowan Park, the largest green space in Barrhead.
The authority is pushing ahead with its proposals even after it emerged that the proposed site is Common Good Land. The Friends of Cowan Park group, which says it brought the land’s protected status to the council’s attention, has claimed that it has been excluded from the decision-making process by the authority.

While it says it does not oppose the building of the new school, the group does have concerns over the location of sports pitches.

The group, which was set up in 2012 with a mandate to help manage and improve the area, feared it could be left with a legal bill of up to £25,000 if it responded to East Renfrewshire Council’s petition to the Court of Session to obtain permission to build on the land.

It is the latest dispute between the council and grassroots organisations under its control, with two community councils in the area facing being stripped of their funding and rights, such as the ability to consult on planning, licensing and education matters and be granted the free use of council facilities, after they attempted to change their constitutions.

Alan Kirkwood, chair of the friends group, said: “We have decided to continue for now, although we don’t feel there is a lot left. We could disband — that is an option we are considering. They seem to have a problem with grassroots organisations, they are arrogant, dismissive and have treated us with no respect.”

A spokeswoman for East Renfreshire Council said that there was “no suggestion” that the council intended to claim court costs from the friends group, although a “standard clause” included in all court applications states expenses would be sought from any party offering opposition.

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