Agenda item

Battenhall Park Pump Track

That the Committee:

 

1.       Notes the contents of the report and in particular the results from the public consultation exercise included at Appendix 2;

2.       Approves a deferment of any decision relating to a pump track at Battenhall Park, and instructs officers to undertake work to investigate further locations across the city, including within the St Peters Ward; and

3.       Notes that a further report will be presented to this Committee in June 2024, that will provide the outcomes of investigation work in respect of additional locations that could be considered for delivering a pump track scheme.

 

Minutes:

The Chair invited a local Ward Member, Councillor Cockeram, to address the Committee prior to the presentation of the item.  Councillor Cockeram spoke in support of a pump track in St Peters Ward but said he thought there were other locations in the Ward which would be as good, if not better. He noted that the budget and location for this facility were decided some time ago but by previous councillors and without sufficient community consultation in his view. Councillor Cockeram also said that a destination pump track would be needed for the whole of the city.

 

The Committee went on to consider the report on the Battenhall Park – Pump Track proposal, presented by the Corporate Director – Operations, Homes and Communities.

 

The report updated Members on the work undertaken and presented the business case developed to date for the installation of a pump track at Battenhall Park.  This project supports the delivery of the Worcester Play Plan. Officers had undertaken further work in respect of this project including a public consultation exercise, a procurement exercise for the installation of the track, the commissioning of an environmental survey and further engagement with planning colleagues.

 

The public consultation information leaflet was attached as Appendix 1 to the report.  The consultation via an on-line survey went live on 26th October and closed on the 26th November.  Door-to-door consultation was undertaken by the Community Engagement Team on 23rd November.  Full details of the consultation responses were shown in Appendix 2 attached to the report.  The headline results from the consultation were set out at paragraph 2.8 of the report.  Although most are supportive of a pump track at this location there were those that strongly opposed it.

 

Two bids were received in response to the running of a procurement exercise during Autumn 2023, as highlighted at paragraph 2.31 of the report.  Both bids were within the £60,000 capital funding for which provision had been made within the capital programme.

 

Due to a combination of practical challenges that exist with the Battenhall Park site and the stated level of opposition that has been communicated through consultation, this has led officers to recommend that a decision on this location is deferred.  This did not mean that the site had been discounted as unsuitable.

 

A deferment will allow investigation work to be undertaken on additional sites, with a view to a further report being presented to this Committee with an option appraisal of sites. This will also enable officers to consider the option of more than one pump track or similar facility that would include a destination type facility, followed by that of a neighbourhood type facility. The deficit in facilities for children and young people to use their wheels in safe, traffic-free spaces, is felt across the city and multiple sites would ultimately be of benefit.

The Chair asked the Corporate Director whether, if the recommendation in the report was agreed, it does not mean the end of wheels-based play provision in St Peters.  The Corporate Director confirmed that was correct.  The Chair also referred to the survey/consultations and worrying allegations that the consultation system is being misused.  The Corporate Director stated this had been noted and that an upgrade to the current system was being looked at or possibly a new one.

An amendment to recommendation 1.2 of the report was made by a Committee Member as follows:

“This Committee approves a pump track at Battenhall Park, on the condition that officers work with residents, in particular people living closest to the location to address concerns relating to anti-social behaviour, environmental considerations, and instruct officers to undertake work to investigate further locations across the city, including within the St Peters Ward.”

 

The amendment to recommendation 1.2 was seconded.  The proposer then spoke in support of the amendment.

 

Committee Members proceeded to debate the amendment where a range of views were expressed. Some Members spoke in favour of support of this facility and felt that there was a pressing need to bring forward the project given how long it had been in development. Those Members felt this choice of location was acceptable as long as there was engagement with residents to help address their concerns. Other Members spoke in opposition of this choice of location and raised concerns including in relation to the community consultation exercise, environmental impact, accessibility, parking, safety.

 

Officers responded to questions, comments and points of clarification from Committee Members.

 

The Chair asked Committee Members to take a vote on the amendment to the recommendation at 1.2 which had been proposed and seconded.  Upon being put to the vote the amendment of recommendation 1.2 was agreed.

 

The Committee then proceeded to vote on the recommendation, as amended.  Upon being put to the vote the proposal was agreed.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee agree to:

 

1.       note the contents of the report and in particular the results from the public consultation exercise included at Appendix 2;

2.       approve a pump track at Battenhall Park, on the condition that officers work with residents, in particular people living closet to the location to address concerns relating to anti-social behaviour, environmental considerations, and instructs officers to undertake work to investigate further locations across the city, including within the St Peters Ward;

3.       note that a further report will be presented to this Committee in June 2024, that will provide the outcomes of investigation work in respect of additional locations that could be considered for delivering pump track facilities.

Supporting documents: