LETTERS: Straw’s Bridge allegations are unfounded

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Last week the ‘Tiser published a letter commenting on the borough council’s decision not to renew permission for a mobile catering facility at Straw’s Bridge Local Nature Reserve, West Hallam.

It is difficult to engage with someone who does not reveal their identity, but as chairman of the Friends of Straw’s Bridge I feel compelled to take issue with her/his version of events, and above all, with the allegations which are made.

Firstly, the facts. In summer, 2014, Erewash Borough Council allowed a mobile catering facility to trade at Straw’s Bridge.

The Friends of Straw’s Bridge were told that permission had been granted for a limited period, after which the scheme would be evaluated and a decision made on its future. The council’s evaluation took into account the views of the friends, West Hallam Parish Council, borough council elected members and the Erewash public via the residents’ panel. A questionnaire survey was carried out on site and online.

It was quite proper that the friends’ group was consulted as, according to its constitution, this forms part of its relationship with the council. The survey was conducted on behalf of the council by an independent research organisation.

Your correspondent is quite right to say that the friends were opposed to the scheme.

Their reasoned objections included the following: adverse visual impact, risk of increased litter, risks to bird life from discarded food, environmental health issues, pollution risks, the change to the character of the site, and road safety issues. The group thought that a fast food outlet was particularly inappropriate for a site being considered at the time for LNR and Green Flag status (both subsequently awarded).

Let us be clear, the decision was made by the council at the highest level on the basis of all of the information it gathered. If your correspondent wants to see the other data and to know how the decision was arrived at she/he should contact the council.

Incidentally, the decision to allow catering for one-off events was also the council’s.

So much for the facts, now for the allegations. What was this ‘campaign’ the friends were supposed to have conducted which seems to have upset your correspondent?

The group was consulted by the council; members probably shared their views with other people, as no doubt your correspondent did, I wrote a letter to the Advertiser. I seem to remember an anonymous letter being published at the time expressing the opposite view. There was no campaign by the friends, only the democratic process of which your correspondent is so fond.

More seriously, the writer says that the events ”tell me a lot about the “friends” and does a disservice to those of the group who do a brilliant job with their volunteer work”. This is a slur and an attempt to damage the reputation of a group of people who for the last five years, almost to the day, have given their time and labour to maintain, preserve, improve and promote the site. So who are the good friends, and who are the bad, and what have they done that makes them so? It is easy to make unsubstantiated insinuations shielded by the cloak of anonymity, but is your correspondent prepared to back them up by naming names, including her/his own?

Jeff Wynch

Chairman,

Friends of Straw’s Bridge