Woodhall Spa Council and public split over deal to sign over Jubilee Park’s future

Jubilee Park in Woodhall Spa
Jubilee Park in Woodhall Spa

Angry residents in Woodhall Spa claim parish councillors were allegedly “blackmailed” into agreeing to back a 
takeover of Jubilee Park.

The parish council wants to hand control of the park to a charitable company.

The process moved a significant step closer when councillors agreed to remove a controversial clause from the lease agreement at their meeting last week.

The clause effectively gave councillors the power to veto any planning applications they felt were not in the best interests of the park.

However, at the meeting, parish councillor Tim Peacock, who is one of five interim directors of the new company, said the lease agreement would not be signed - if the clause was left in.

He stressed the new company was community based and had to be seen to be completely independent from the parish council.

Councillor Peacock was one of six councillors 
who then voted for the clause to be removed - with five against.

He was supported by Coun David Hill who said although taking out the clause might not be legal, the council was demonstrating good will to the new company.

Council chairman David Clarke had earlier said removing the clause would be “entirely unreasonable.”

Although the parish council will retain ownership of the park, Coun Clarke said the vote meant directors of the company could do whatever they wanted, including shutting the complex.

Two days after that vote, more than 40 residents attended a public meeting to discuss the saga.

They backed calls for a parish meeting which has been arranged for next month but may not go ahead, depending on developments. elsewhere.

Former parish councillor Daphne Robinson - who is leading opposition to the park takeover - said the entire handover process “stank” and was “as clear as mud.”

Speaking at the public meeting, she said: “The park was left to the people of Woodhall Spa as a community asset, but everyone I have spoken to hasn’t got a clue what is going on.

“I know I am a gobby mare but I am also open, straight and fair to everyone. I want to see the park succeed but what has gone on stinks.”

She accused parish councillors of taking important decisions regarding the park’s future in closed sessions.

She also doubted if Coun Peacock should have been allowed to vote in the parish council meeting, because of his position as a director of the new company.

Mrs Robinson added: “We need answers. I just hope the six councillors who voted to remove that clause are man enough to turn up at the parish meeting, stand before everyone and explain what they have done.”

Mrs Robinson claims the new company wants to build a fitness suite at Jubilee 
Park which would cost £500,000.

She - and several residents - spoke against the idea while many people felt taking the park out of parish council control was a mistake. Some residents called for a referendum.

Mrs Robinson is adamant that if the new company fails, local council tax payers could be liable for any debts.

One resident said: “What is happening is a disgrace. The council has caved in. They (the directors) can’t just say they will walk away, if they don’t get their own way. That’s blackmail.”

The lease still has not been signed and previous park owners, East Lindsey District Council, could insist on inserting several conditions before any deal is finalised.

There are also unconfirmed reports that another company could be interested in running the park.