Published: 13:30, 13 February 2018
Medway Labour have 'called-in' Medway Council's decision to close Deangate Ridge.
The Labour Group have exercised their right to 'call-in' the decision, which asks for the decision to be looked at once more in an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting at a date still to be confirmed.
Medway Council decided to close the facility for financial reasons at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, February 6, despite there over a hundred protesters against it outside Medway Council offices in Gun Wharf, Chatham.
Cllr Andy Stamp, who called for the decision said: “Whilst Medway Labour Group is not opposed in principle to Deangate Ridge being part of a sustainable development strategy for Hoo, Medway’s ruling Conservative Councillors have acted appallingly.
"They are treating the people of Hoo with utter contempt over this issue.
"They are treating the people of Hoo with utter contempt over this issue." - Cllr Andy Stamp
"The site has been run as a golf course for 40 years but the Conservatives decided to close the course just a week after making their plans public – within 6 weeks it will be history.
"There’s been no consultation; no open, democratic decision-making process, and no consideration for the impact it will have on local residents. We appear to be living in a dictatorship here in Medway – it’s totally unacceptable.
"The justification for closing the site raises more questions than it answers.
"If the facility has been making a loss for 7 years, why didn’t the Council make much-needed improvement to attract more visitors and increase revenue?
"The decision also has serious consequences for all of Medway Council’s remaining Leisure facilities which demands further scrutiny.”
Machinery churned up the course and ripped natural woodland and habitat down last month.
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Leader of Medway Council and the Conservative Group, Cllr Alan Jarrett said that Labour were only trying to create additional delay to proceedings.
He said: "I could say that I am disappointed by the Medway Labour Group’s choice to call-in the decision to close Deangate Ridge golf course, however, this is exactly the kind of unruly behaviour I have come to expect of the Labour Group.
"The Labour Group have been quite clear that they do not support keeping Deangate Ridge
open, and so the decision to call-in has only served to illustrate Labour’s willingness to create additional delay and uncertainty for members of the public, all at the continued expense of the taxpayer.
"Shallow attempts at political point scoring, and playing on people’s fears and concerns whilst offering no alternative, has become somewhat of a nasty habit of Medway Labour, and I do hope that in the future we will see less jumping on bandwagons and more rational
representation from the opposition."
Roughly 50 protesters rallied outside Council offices to try to save Deangate.
Click to view
Peninsula Councillor and Conservative Cabinet Member Phil Filmer echoed the thoughts of his constituents as he voted in vain against the club's closure, but the decision was still made to close the course on March 31.
The decision was met by huge opposition from residents, whose petition asking the Council to reconsider closing the course received over 3000 signatures.
A further petition asking for the decision to under the Council's Scrutiny Committee, created after the decision had been made, received over 1200 signatures in just seven hours.
George Crozer, who led the protests, said: "Our prime concern at this stage is that we believe the Cabinet based its decision on woefully inadequate and biased information.
"This was pointed out to the Cabinet prior to their decision, but they ignored it, which raises deep concerns for the future of Medway if that is how such important decisions are going to be made.
"That is why we are calling for that decision to go to the scrutiny committee, where we hope to once again make our case that Cabinet should seek a full and accurate report on the situation at Deangate Ridge if the people of Medway are to get a fair outcome on this issue.”
The people of High Halstow in Hoo will meet tomorrow night to share their views on the decision to close Deangate with their parish council.
Mr Crozer, chair of the Parish Council, also said, "This campaign is more than about a golf course; it is about democracy in Medway. This is publicly owned land, and despite the Council being made aware that they did not have anything like the full facts, they went ahead anyway.
"We can't have the future of Medway's assets being decided on the basis of such fundamentally flawed reports."
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