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EXCLUSIVE

COUNCILLORS KEPT IN DARK OVER RAVENHURST

15-11-2006

Another twist in the tale of the threatened Ravenhurst Playing Fields in Harborne. At a packed public meeting last night it emerged that Birmingham Council officers met with developers 19 months ago to discuss the site, but kept councillors in the dark.

Yesterday's gathering at Moorpool Hall heard confirmation of a story first reported earlier in the day on The Stirrer to the effect that officials from the city's planning department met with representatives of the house-builder Wimpey at Alpha Tower in the city centre on 6 April 2005.

Sport England were there too, and it's even been claimed that council leader and Harborne councillor Mike Whitby was present,although this has not been confirmed.

In any event, two other local councillors John Alden and Peter Hollingsworth - who unlike Whitby were both present last night - say they were both kept “out of the loop” and were not informed about the discussions.

The Stirrer has also seen a letter by Sport England's Regional Director Steve Round in which he says a scheme to develop part of the playing fields “did receive support in principle from the City Council's planning officers.”

This was hotly disputed by council planning officer Simon Turner who was at Moorpool last night, but when he was questioned by us after the meeting he refused to give any more information, deeming it “not appropriate.”

Oh, really? This is what The Stirrer thinks is “not appropriate” - planning officers having meetings with developers that might impact upon local communities without informing and inviting local councillors.

We are currently hot on the trail of the minutes of the meeting at Alpha Tower to find out who attended and what was said.

In the meantime, the council would do well to heed the mood of last night's event which was overwhelming in its opposition to a scheme that could dramatically reduce the amount of open space in Birmingham.

The potential to reclaim Ravenhurst as a playing field, not just for Harborne but for inner city areas such as Ladywood which are chronically deprived of green space was made abundantly clear.

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