£10,000 donation does not buy Parish silence on Coach Park
Parish Council chair Peter “Stumpy” Hood insisted that donations of £10,000 from TGW and £2,000 from McArdle towards the Jubilee Clock did not buy the Parish Council’s silence on key village issues, in a tense Annual General Meeting at Colnbrook Village Hall which saw Hood challenged for the leadership of the Council.
Hood rejected suggestions that accepting £2000 of free labour was legitimising McArdle’s continued Green Belt violation and undermining SBC’s enforcement action. He insisted: “we will take money from anyone for good causes … you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Cllr Dexter Smith agreed, pointing out that he has recently campaigned against McArdle for the local borough elections despite the donation. However, Hood confirmed that after he and Vice-Chair Ray Angell had met with TGW they had agreed “not to comment” on the Planning Application for a massive Olympic coach park in Poyle, but to “leave it to Neighbours” as with a conservatory or extension. It would more than likely be approved by Slough Borough Council anyway, according to Hood.
Councillors had told Colnbrook Views before the meeting that expensive “vanity projects” such as the £20,000 Jubilee Clock have been kept top of the agenda under Hood while most policy decisions have been made outside council meetings. Most recently Cllr Hood advised he had withdrawn objections to the 400-coach transport park in Poyle Place for unspecified donations to the Clock and a vague promise of a new bus route. On being questioned about whether the full Council had approved this approach he said it had, in contrast to what several councillors have told Colnbrook Views.
Hood rejected the suggestion made by a resident that the Parish Council’s independence was in any way compromised by accepting the £10,000 donation. Unelected Parish Clerk Roland Hewson – characteristically saying more than most of our elected representatives – blasted that it was “nonsense” to make such a suggestion while Vice-Chair demanded to know if a specific allegation was being made.
However as things stand now, there will be no specific assurances sought by the Parish Council in consideration of the scheme, and no submission to the Planning Committee with regard to underlining safeguards for Colnbrook.
TGW will not be required to return the site to its former Green Belt status – before the illegal lorry park was closed down – because of the immense cost involved. Hood said:
I would love to see it returned to meadow with lambs running around but it’s just not going to happen.
They will, however, donate the palisade fencing to the village (“not the Parish Council“) to be erected as part of new sporting facilities being discussed with the owner of the George Meadow. A proposed new bus service which TGW may provide “would be permanent and not just for the Olympics“, but there were no guarantees.
The timely donations have meant that the Council’s £20,000 target has now been met and Cllr Angell was able to report that initial ground work on the clock foundations has been carried out and the clock is expected to be erected in the summer as part of its Jubilee celebrations. On the 16th June a Jubilee dinner will be held at La Bettola Italian restaurant but while he does not really see it as the Parish Council’s business to organise street parties for the Jubilee, “but we won’t object if somebody else in the community wants to organise one“.