Petition calling on Havering Council to reject Go Ape’s Bedfords Park proposal earns more than 2,000 signatures
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 November 2017
Matthew Clemenson Romford Recorder
A Go Ape course could soon be in the trees above Bedfords Park.
A petition calling on Havering Council to reject proposals for a Go Ape adventure centre in Bedfords Park has gained more than 2,150 signatures in five days.
Earlier this month, the Recorder broke the news that high-wire adventure park company was in the early stages of drawing up plans to lease two sections of the Romford Park to construct an adventure centre.
But now, resident activists Lorraine Moss and Jan Sargent have begun a petition calling on the council to protect the historic park’s 215 acres of plush green land.
Lorraine told the Recorder: “I’m really not against the idea of a Go Ape coming to Romford at all, I just think Bedfords Park is the wrong place to have one.
“The reaction we’ve had online since the petition went up has been amazing, so hopefully the council will see that people in Romford don’t want a Go Ape in Bedfords Park.”
The GLA also deemed Bedfords a Site of Metropolitan Importance, meaning it has been recognised by both the Mayor of London and the London Wildlife Sites Board as green space crucial to the quality of life across the city.
Maintained by the Essex Wildlife Trust and Havering Council, the park is home to a wide range of birds and other wildlife, and there are also concerns opening an activity centre in the park would have a huge impact on their habitat.
Lorraine, who has previously played a large role in organising resistance to plans for solar turbines in Bedfords Park, said any construction in the area would set a dangerous precedent.
She said: “Once Havering Council decides to start selling off space in our public parks who knows where it will end?”
In an online poll, 64pc of Recorder website readers said they were in favour of the award-winning leisure company establishing a new centre in Bedfords Park.
Go Ape did not respond to the Recorder’s request for comment.
But on November 1, Frances Buck, Go Ape’s business development manager, confirmed the company was “in early discussions regarding the possibility of bringing an adventure to Bedfords Park” and stressed proposals were in the initial stages of a pre-planning consultation process.
To learn more about the petition, or to sign it, visit: www.change.org/p/cllr-roger-ramsey-say-no-to-the-proposed-go-ape-application-for-bedfords-park.
Jan Sargent and I were at the Cabinet meeting and Cllr Melvin Wallace asked me for my email address because he had some important facts about the "Go Ape" proposal. Please see below;
From: CouncillorMelvin Wallace
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 9:23 PM
To: Lorraine Moss
Subject: Go Ape
The below message has been sent by me to various members of the public who are against the proposed project in Bedfords by Go Ape.
The Council are in negotiations with "Go Ape" following their inquiry, they have been proven to have a negligible impact on wildlife and biodiversity. They undertake a suite of ecological surveys before applying for planning permission, including Protected Species Scoping and Extended Phase One Habital survey, together with a traffic survey of the area.
If the results of the preliminary surveys suggest that more surveys are required such as for Bats, then further work is conducted and any necessary mitigation methods discussed and submitted with their planning application.
The construction methods used are very low impact with the majority of work being carried out up in the trees by hand. Once the course is operational it requires no external lighting or machinery to run, so there is no light spill or unnecessary noise that will disturb wildlife.
Importantly, the course does not require an exclusive use of the area underneath the course, only the stockade and the landing zones will be in contact with the ground, the areas of ropes course does not need to be entirely fenced off, the materials used to build the course blend in well with the surrounding trees, so other park users will be free to walk underneath the course to explore and use the park as they always have.
Essex Wildlife Trust are fully supportive of this proposal, on the basis that robust wildlife surveys are being carried out, likewise the residents of Havering Atte Bower are supportive.
I do hope the above allays your fears that the park will be spoilt, be assured I will not allow this to happen, in the long term it will only help to enhance this and other parks.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
I have read the above email from the cabinet member and I note the cabinet member told you he had some important facts about the "Go Ape" proposal. I would like to point out some very important inaccuracies in his reply to you.
The cabinet member states:
“Essex Wildlife Trust are fully supportive of this proposal, on the basis that robust wildlife surveys are being carried out, likewise the residents of Havering atte Bower are supportive.”
I have spoken to the Essex Wildlife Trust and that is not what they said.
They told me they are not “fully supportive of this proposal” - What they said is:
They are "not opposed to this proposal in principal" but is dependent on far more surveys being carried out.
The EWT have also told me they have raised major concerns over the amount of the park that will be lost to increased car parking and the EWT activity centre will not be able to cope with the increased footfall.
I was also told some of the people carrying out the surveys are one of the major stake holders that stand to financially benefit from this proposal going ahead.
The cabinet member states “likewise the residents of Havering atte Bower are supportive.”
Every resident in the village I have spoken to is wholly against this proposal.
The residents pointed out they have already raised major concerns about traffic in the village. On 13th July 2017 at full council a 600 signature petition highlighting their concerns about traffic and signed by 90% of the village residents was handed to the Mayor.
This Go Ape proposal will change the nature of both Bedfords Park and Havering ate Bower village forever. Havering atte Bower is a conservation area and Bedfords Park is a designated Local Nature Reserve and site of Metropolitan Importance. Below is an email that has been forwarded to me by the MP for the area.
ROSINDELL, Andrew <email@example.com> Nov 14
to Chris, Christine, ray.best, johnc, me
Dear Bedfords Park Campaign Group
I am not in favour of anything that would change the nature of Bedfords Park. Bedfords Park is a country park, where wildlife and nature must be always be paramount. We should not turn Bedfords Park into an Adventure Playground.
I have yet to receive any information from “Go Ape” about what is being proposed for Bedfords Park, but having been visiting the park my whole life, I will always defend its special character.
Thank you for getting in touch with me and for keeping me informed.
With best wishes.
Andrew Rosindell M.P.
We haven't inherited the earth from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children.