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People power' wins in park path dispute

PUBLISHED: 17:44 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:43 25 August 2010

VICTORY: Reporter Marina Soteriou discusses the U-turn with Mr Gold.

VICTORY: Reporter Marina Soteriou discusses the U-turn with Mr Gold.

A SHADOW environment minister says a council u-turn on a village green has proven 'people power' works.

A SHADOW environment minister says a council u-turn on a village green has proven 'people power' works.

Nick Herbert met with campaigners on Monday who successfully fought Greenwich council's decision to have a footpath cut through Eltham Green.

Residents claimed they were not consulted on the path and only found out by waking up to the sight of diggers boring a trench into the turf to prepare it for tarmac.

Now council bosses have abandoned the plans and turfed over the trench after campaigners held daily protests on the green and signed a petition with hundreds of signatures.

Mr Herbert said: "It didn't make sense. Not consulting with residents shows that people didn't matter and they can do whatever they like, and that was wrong.

"They successfully resisted it and it shows that people power can work."

Learning mentor Sarah White, 44, of Green Way, said: "We were getting conflicting stories that the council didn't know about it and that they were council approved contractors doing the work.

"This green belongs to the people of Eltham."

Pensioner Mary Taylor, 78, who has lived in the area for 45 years, said: "I am pleased that the council have listened to the people.

"We are talking about the future of our children playing on the grounds.

"It would have been a huge scar.

"We need re-assurance that nothing like this will happen again."

Student Jennifer Garner, 22, of Greenway, said: "What a waste of time and money.

"There are pavements running around the green."

Mr Herbert could not reveal any ideas for the Tory environmental policy but said there is some 'exciting work' being undertaken in conservation.

A spokesperson for Greenwich council said: "Immediately following those resident complaints the council ceased the work.

"We have apologised unreservedly to local residents. We acknowledge that the correct procedures were not followed before this TfL-funded work went ahead, in that neither the service director's, nor the leader of the council's consent were sought, and consultation did not take place in advance with residents.

"We are carrying out an internal investigation to ascertain why normal processes for securing agreement to spend resources were not followed.

"The visit this week by a Shadow Minister has no bearing on the council's prompt response to residents last month as soon as their concerns came to light."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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