Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) have been attempting to find a site for a cemetery extension given that the current Whitby cemetery will fill within a few years. They keep coming back to Larpool Playing Field, despite assurance by the same organisation in 2014 that it would remain green space ad infinitum due to their appropriation of Helredale Playing Field. Whitby Town Council have been continually resisting this, and the matter was before a committee of SBC this week. A story appeared in Whitby Gazette, ThisIsTheCoast, and Yorkshire Post etc highlighting the anger that is brewing over SBC’s continued attempts to appropriate Whitby green space. Here is our response
We stand with Cllr. Abbott in objecting to the use of Larpool Playing Field as a cemetery, and be assured he would not be alone on the picket lines. Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) has continually eroded the Whitby green space over decades, building housing development after housing development. These developments have made no impact on the significant housing problem that we have in the town, of truly affordable housing for local people.
Whitby Community Network has updated the SBC green space audit of 2014, to correct some errors and bring it up-to-date with the Councils recent appropriations of Whitby land (see our website). The town now has a deficit of some 10ha of natural green space, 6ha of urban park green space, and 7ha of sports green space compared to the local standard; this is before taking into account the proposed removals of Rievaulx Road (0.8ha) and part of Calla Beck (0.5ha) for “Better Homes”, together with Larpool Playing Field (1.7ha). Further to that, Larpool Playing Field was classed as “poor” standard back in 2014, and has had no effective maintenance by SBC for many years; this is just one example of how Whitby infrastructure has been left to decay by SBC, whereas with a little effort it could be restored to be a great resource for the (living) residents of this town.
The whole point of having an audit is to report findings and plan for correcting deficiencies, and SBC know of the deficiencies in green space yet have failed to provide a plan for remedying the situation. There is now next to no amenity space left for kids to have a kick about on a free-to-access playing field, with school fields being fenced off, yet another sign of the utter failure of local councils (SBC and NYCC) to provide for the physical and mental well-being of the residents of this town; little wonder that the recent report by the Chief Medical Officer into Coastal Health showed both Whitby wards in the lower reaches of life expectancy.
The Better Homes project (a 30-year commitment) has not been adequately consulted on with the Whitby residents, and the proposed appropriation of further green space just to provide space for developers is unacceptable. Why is publicly owned land not being developed by social housing groups to provide the much needed local affordable and accessible homes, for primary residency, rather than a private developer who may provide some affordable homes ? – we note the number to be provided is unclear. The fact that SBC has assigned what would be an ideal cemetery site on the land to the west of Love Lane to the Better Homes project beggars belief.
An assessment of why SBC’s housing policy has failed to provide for local people for years, and how to truly fix the problems, should happen before any further wide-scale sell-off. The common sense solution would be to halt the Better Homes project in its tracks until a well thought out solution to the housing problem is found, and for the land to the west of Love Lane be assigned for the cemetery scheme given that it has excellent access and transport links and is available now.
What do you think? Will you be joining us on the picket line if it comes to that?