News

Local MP has ‘no confidence’ in council’s Whitewebbs approach

Feryal Clark slams Enfield Council for ‘not listening’ to residents over Whitewebbs Park lease to Tottenham Hotspur, reports James Cracknell

Whitewebbs Park Golf Course and (inset) Feryal Clark MP
Whitewebbs Park Golf Course and (inset) Feryal Clark MP

A local Labour MP has slammed Enfield Council’s approach to Whitewebbs Park – saying she’s “lost confidence in the council’s ability to involve local residents in its plans”.

Enfield North MP Feryal Clark wrote a strongly-worded letter to her constituents today (Friday 20th) outlining her concerns over the way the Labour-run council was handling the proposed leasing of half of the park to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC), which wants to build a women’s and girls’ academy on the northern half of the former golf course within the park.

The most recent controversy surrounding Whitewebbs Park began when a public notice was published shortly before Christmas, outlining the council’s intention to enter into a lease with THFC and inviting the public to comment. However, residents and campaigners opposed to the lease argued that the notice broke a key council promise that it would only be issued if or when Spurs win planning permission. The council has emphasised that this remains the case as the 25-year lease will only commence after permission is granted.

However, the council’s assurances have not quelled local anger, with a protest being staged outside Enfield Civic Centre last week.

Feryal says in her letter that she is “disappointed” the council was proceeding with the lease notice before the full details of the THFC plan emerge. She writes: “When Enfield Council went to tender expressions of interest for the golf course, I made clear my view to the council and local residents. Whilst I understood the council’s concerns around financial pressures, and the wish to maximise revenue from the site, I was clear that residents’ views must be listened to through an in-depth consultation before any decision was made.

“At the time, I was pleased to hear about plans which would protect this existing green space at Whitewebbs, that is valuable to many of us in Enfield, and enhance public access, protect the woodlands, and improve biodiversity.

“The level of resident engagement on this proposal by the council at the time was poor, which was made very clear to the council by residents and myself. I joined residents in calling on the council to do better.”


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The Labour MP continues: “Both residents and I were reassured that the proposals would require planning approval and no lease would be entered into unless this was obtained, following a rigorous local consultation.
“This would have been the opportunity for residents to shape and influence the proposals. It is most disappointing that despite reassurances given by the council, this has not been the case.

“I therefore completely understand and share the anger and frustration of residents who feel like their voices have been ignored.

“The lack of clarity that residents have received on all stages of this project, could have been averted by a more rigorous and meaningful engagement and consultation process.”

The Enfield North MP adds that the council should not have launched a consultation over the Christmas period and had therefore “further failed in their obligations to residents”. She concluded: “Unfortunately, I have lost confidence in the council’s ability to involve local residents and user groups, in its plans for this public space […] Local communities must be at the heart of decisions that affect them.”

In response, a council spokesperson said: “Enfield Council has categorically not entered into a lease with Tottenham Hotspur FC – the council’s position has not changed. The council has authorised an ‘agreement for lease’ which makes it absolutely concrete that no lease can be entered into with THFC until defined pre-conditions have been met and fulfilled.

“The granting of a lease is therefore wholly contingent on THFC securing planning permission for the women’s football academy, as well as carrying out repairs and renovations to paths, bridleways and fences, and to improve the café and toilet facilities. Until then, the council will not enter into any lease with THFC.”

Feryal Clark MP’s full message to Enfield North constituents can be read on her website:
Visit
feryalclark.co.uk/news/an-update-on-whitewebbs


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