Is this our last chance?
This weekend could be the last weekend the community can access Oakfield Rec for the foreseeable future. Save Oakfield Group will be holding a Human Chain event on Saturday 18th June at 11 o’clock and have invited local and regional press along to cover the story.
Head of Rugby Borough Council, Councillor Michael Stokes, has been quoted in local newspapers and appeared on regional radio discussing Oakfield, the Co-op and the comments they have made. Michael says that he has written to Co-op Chief Executive, Ali Kurji, directly to request a meeting. Councillor Stokes feels that Mr Kurji may not have been advised by his legal team & planning agent that offers to purchase Oakfield have been made, but we understand that no response has been received as yet.
We are not surprised that the Heart of England Co-op has ignored the request, given the extraordinary level of arrogance that they have displayed in the last 20 months.
As has become apparent from the articles in the Rugby Advertiser, they have succeeded where many other media have failed, by extracting a quote from the Heart of England Co-op. We have therefore contacted the Rugby Advertiser, asking them if they can establish why the Co-op think it’s acceptable to not even acknowledge requests from the Council. We have also asked them to attempt to negotiate a meeting between Rugby Borough Council and the Heart of England Co-op on our behalf, with a view to bringing this situation to a close.
Should no agreement between the Council and the Co-op be reached, the children’s play equipment will be removed by June 22nd as requested by the Co-Op legal team. The Co-op have indicated that the fence will go up on the very next day. One suspects it isn’t entirely coincidental that they have chosen the 23rd June to erect the fence knowing that the media will be otherwise distracted with the European Referendum. The expression “a good day to bury bad news” springs to mind.
However, the fence being assembled does not mark the end of this dispute but rather the start of another chapter.
Save Oakfield Group is strongly of the belief that the Co-op will be unsuccessful if they pursue with this appeal, and that the reasons behind them erecting a fence will be dimly viewed by the Planning Inspectorate just as the threat to do so was by the local Councillors on the Planning Committee. We remain committed to saving the field and will be pressing for the necessary actions that will result in the removal of the fence once it is clear that planning permission will not be granted.