Parish council vote paves way for Woodhall Park deal to be signed

Jubilee Park in Woodhall Spa
Jubilee Park in Woodhall Spa

The controversial handover of a Woodhall Spa leisure complex looks set to go ahead after parish councillors ditched a clause which had threatened to derail the entire process.

The parish council is set to transfer responsibility for Jubilee Park to a newly formed charitable company.

Parish councillors discussed the matter at their monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

Tim Peacock - a director of the new company and a parish councillor - revealed the proposed deal was in doubt.

He said directors of the new company were not prepared to accept a clause in the lease which would effectively give the parish council the power to veto future planning applications for the park.

Parish council chairman David Clarke insisted the clause should be retained, to protect the park’s future.

However, councillors voted 6-5 to remove the clause - with Coun Peacock’s vote contributing to the decision.

Earlier, Coun Peacock told the meeting the new company had to be seen to be completely independent of the parish council.

He said the directors would be responsible to the local community for any decisions regarding the park.

He added it was unfair to expect any ‘interference’ from the parish council who will retain overall ownership of the complex.

Coun Peacock stressed the new company - which is in the hands of five interim directors - was a community based organisation and would respect the wishes of its members.

He told the meeting directors had the best interests of the park at heart and wanted to see it succeed.

However, Coun Clarke said removing the clause would be ‘entirely unreasonable’ and could lead to the new company even shutting the complex down.

Coun Clarke said: “We would effectively be left with no control whatsoever. If this clause comes out of the agreement, I’ve got to ask what is the difference between a lease transfer and a complete transfer of the assets which we (the parish council) have always been against?”

Coun David Hill backed Coun Peacock and said existing regulations regarding the planning process meant that the parish council could still oppose any applications.

He said it was vital the lease was signed and did not feel the clause was important enough for the proposed deal to fail.

The meeting was told there were still other ‘small issues’ to be sorted before the lease could be signed, including arrangements for under-letting and a disputes’ procedure.

Previous park owners East Lindsey District Council may yet insist other clauses are inserted.

The latest twist to the saga comes amid opposition to the deal from residents led by ex-parish councillor Daphne Robinson.

They claim charitable company wants to build a new £500,000 fitness suite and warn local council tax payers could be saddled with any debts - if the project fails.

They also say the parish council should have consulted with residents before agreeing to hand over the park which had been bequeathed to Woodhall Spa as a ‘community asset.’

The residents were holding a public meeting today (Thursday) and are looking to organise a parish meeting to discuss the handover.

In replying to the Mrs Robinson’s concerns, Coun Clarke had said the deal was the best for everyone concerned although he was speaking before Tuesday night’s vote.