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Weymouth chalets debate goes back for discussion
CAMPAIGNERS in Weymouth have been given a ‘second chance’ after a decision to sell off the Greenhill chalets was referred back to a council committee.
The decision in November by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s management committee to offer up chalets at Greenhill for tender was the subject of a scrutiny and performance committee meeting to see if the decision was ‘outside policy framework’.
Councillors unanimously agreed to put the issue back in front of the management committee for reconsideration with a suggestion that issues with the tendering process be consulted on.
Councillor Gill Taylor requested the decision be looked at, stating that under legislation, the area where the chalets are is designated as local green space and subject to legislation of the Local Government Act 1972.
The act states that a council may not dispose of any land consisting or forming part of an open space ‘unless before disposing of the land they cause notice of their intention to do so, specifically the land in question, to be advertised in two consecutive weeks in a newspaper circulating in the area in which the land is situated, and consider any objections to the proposed disposal which may be made to them.’ Coun Taylor said it was therefore ‘illegal’ for the management committee to have considered a decision to tender and lease land designated as open green space.
She added: “There should have been consultation before the decision was made.”
At the original meeting on November 5, councillors agreed to encourage offers for a 125-year lease of the Greenhill Garden chalets, Esplanade chalets, Greenhill play gardens and chalets, public toilets, Pebbles Café, the putting green, tennis courts and sandpit and paddling pool area. Greenhill Gardens would be kept by the council.
The councillors also agreed that if no-one came forward then short-term chalet licences would be offered for the summer of 2014, while the property is remarketed.
But the tendering process has been criticised by the Friends of Greenhill. Issues raised by the group at the meeting included the lack of public consultation, council ‘failure’ to recognise and carry out legal obligations when considering their disposal of local open space and the lack of information relating to the tendering process and land in the original report. Lucy Hamilton, chairman of the scrutiny and performance committee, said: “Greenhill Gardens is one of the jewels of our seafront. We’ve got to look after the jewels in our community by working with partners.”
Residents and chalet users packed out the meeting room.
Liz Bird, of the Chalet Users Community group, said: “We have been given a second chance to carry on with our fight.”
Sue Bray, chairman of the group, added: “Let us hope that they consider the consultation in their decision this time.
“We are very pleased that the issue will be raised again with management.”
It is hoped the issue will now be discussed at a management committee meeting in January.
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