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Anger As Access Road Could Be Permanent
Angry East Kilbride residents are accusing South Lanarkshire Council of “misleading” them after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed a ‘temporary’ access road through the Showpark could stay.
Nearby residents were left fuming when the access road was built through the Showpark to allow construction traffic to access the site of the new Halfmerke Primary School.
East Mains Community Council said they were disappointed with the lack of communication over the council’s decision to put the road through the park because, as far as they were aware, it was meant to be off the Kingsway.
South Lanarkshire Council said the Kingsway was not feasible, but assured residents the access road through the Showpark would be removed following the completion of the new school.
However, East Mains Community Council say the FOI has revealed The Open Cattle Society, the Showpark’s landlords, could keep the road and infrastructure in place if they so wish.
Secretary, Jean Aitken, said: “We are of the opinion that SLC has deliberately misled people of the town by informing them in writing that the road and infrastructure in the Showpark were temporary, when in fact the council has signed a contract to leave it all permanently if the landlords wish it to remain.
“This confirms our suspicions of the legality of the construction road access and site compound, which the community council will continue to pursue.” The FOI also reveals SLC paid three individuals, acting as East Kilbride Open Cattle Society landlords, the sum of £30,000.
Jean went on: “We are also concerned at the lack of governance and accountability which seems to have allowed this substantial amount of public money to have found its way to the individuals named in the contract as ‘landlords’.
“At out last meeting councillor Sheena Wardhaugh and councillor Alice Marie Mitchell seemed genuinely unaware that the road could be permanent if the landlords so wished and took away copies of the paperwork we received.
“There was also genuine anger from residents who attended the meeting that despite being given reassurances the access road was temporary, this may not be the case after all and would see further erosion of priority green space in the town.”
Daniel Lowe, executive director of housing and technical services, said: "Before construction work began, the council wrote last August to all local residents and businesses, to inform them that several insurmountable obstacles had forced a change of plan from the original proposal to access the school site from the Kingsway."
"As we explained at the time, alternative access for construction vehicles was identified through the Showpark, and work is progressing on the new school and nursery facilities."
"The council was clear that this access road to the school would be temporary. We were able to secure this temporary access road through negotiation with the owners of the Showpark, the East Kilbride Open Cattle Show Society. A sum of £30,000 was agreed to compensate the Society for any losses or costs incurred and discussions regarding the reinstatement of the park will take place before the end of the agreement. This was agreed by council officers under delegated authority, in line with standing orders.
“It is precisely because this figure and other aspects of the agreement are already public that we were able to release it to East Mains Community Council when they submitted their Freedom of Information request.
“So it would be quite wrong to suggest that there has been any lack of governance or accountability. The council refutes any allegation of wrong doing and will be writing to East Mains Community Council to make this clear to them.”