An Open Letter To Local Political Party Leaders From the Newry 2020 team.
“As you are doubtless aware, there has been a massive public outcry on social media about the recent attempt to turn the public consultation on a 15-acre city park into a discussion about housing and commercial development on the site.
“Newry 2020 are united with the public in our opposition to this attack on the campaign for a city park, and we are asking the Party Leaders to ensure that the public consultation is carried out in line with their existing commitment to a 15-acre park.
“Despite recent efforts that appear to have muddied the waters, it is vital to keep the following three points in mind:
“Firstly, the council’s unanimous and legally-binding motion explicitly states that it will develop a 15 acre park. Any suggestion that some part of the 15 acre site should be set aside for non-park development is specifically ruled out by the wording of the motion.
“(For clarity, a park is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as: “A large area of land with grass and trees, usually surrounded by fences or walls, and specially arranged so that people can walk in it for pleasure or children can play in it”)
“Secondly, the Working Group and the Stakeholder Group have both made it clear that they want a public park, not housing or commercial development.
“This has been discussed many times at the Working Group meetings, and again at the Stakeholder Workshop earlier this year, where the consensus was clear that we were discussing open public space, and not housing or commercial development unsuited to a park.
“And thirdly, the public have made their feelings absolutely clear on the matter, throughout the six-year campaign for a public park. In our 2016 Newry City Park survey, which had over 900 responses, not one single respondent expressed a desire for housing or retail development on the site. In fact, the only mention of such development on the site was to express opposition to the idea.
“For these reasons, any wording in the survey that supports the development of housing or commercial development unsuited to a park, is entirely inconsistent with the Council’s motion, the wishes of the Working Group and Stakeholder Group, and the six-year public campaign for open green space, and therefore must be entirely removed from the questionnaire.
“We are therefore writing to all the Party Leaders to ask one simple question: ‘Will you agree to remove any and all suggestions of housing or commercial development unsuited to a park from the draft questionnaire?‘
“Given the expectation that the council will soon return to make a decision on the final version of the questionnaire, we are asking that Newry Mourne and Down District Council councillors take this on board.
“As always, we would like to thank you and your colleagues for your ongoing support for our campaign to build a better Newry for all.“
The Newry 2020 team.