We want to note the dismissive, distorting language used by the board in relation to our campaign. It demonstrates how little they have tried to work with us and the community. It shows they don’t understand – or don’t care – why we have come together in our thousands to try and save the meadows.
Many of us have used the meadows for years, if not decades. Yes, some people did discover the meadow during lockdown. But that doesn’t make their contribution any less valuable than if they had been walking there for years.
We are clear in the fact if people had discovered the site or not, it would still have been a significant community asset for mental health, wellbeing, the environment, sports, and recreation.
The Board also sees us as perpetrators of misinformation in the community. Therefore I would like to challenge the board to provide the business case for the new hospital to the public. We want to be clear on what exactly you want to do to the meadow, so we can keep the community informed.
I want to note this is actually VCC’s job as the developers. And it is yet another developmental failure that the onus is on a campaign run by volunteers to give the community the information they need.
We would also hope a public body would be truthful in its planning applications. But when new applications are submitted, changes and discrepancies appear.
Our clearest example is the estimated effect of building on forest farm. At planning in 2017, these were stated to be minimal. Now the area is facing medium to high levels of air, noise, and light pollution.
How are community volunteers – and not influencers by any extent (although we are flattered) – meant to provide accurate information when:
1️⃣ The information shared by the public body is distorted or false;
2️⃣ The community is given three weeks to analyse planning applications, of hundreds of pages and documents, as well as raising awareness of the issues in the community and objecting along legal lines;
3️⃣ Many in the community weren’t even aware the development was happening in the first place, despite living in close proximity to the site, a clear failure in communication and engagement.
As community members who will have to live with the development, construction, and operation for the rest of our lifetimes, we ask the board to not be as patronising or dismissive of our concerns.
Perhaps you don’t understand the stress of living on a main road coming off a busy motorway junction, or a small flat without a garden. Perhaps you don’t understand the difficulties of living with long term mental illnesses and the stress that comes with. Or perhaps you simply don’t care what the community is going through, and hope to press ahead despite the fact the world has changed due to Covid-19 and climate change.
Either way, we have repeatedly asked for greater community involvement in decision making, and for you to raise awareness with the community in an equitable way. What we see here and in your practice is an utter dismissal of our concerns.
We ask all community groups working in solidarity with us, to seriously question the public authority and it’s view of the public.
Allowing a blasé board of executives to hold such views of a community where they hope to build their centre – when many of us have been treated or know individuals seeking treatment ourselves – is disgraceful and must be treated as such.
You can find the full meeting bundle here