Labour councillor accuses Ashfield District Council of ignoring the public
A Labour councillor has accused the leadership of Ashfield District Council of ignoring public concerns over the ongoing row over the future of the Papplewick Green playing fields.
Coun Keir Morrison, who represents Hucknall South, was speaking after the ruling Ashfield Independents confirmed they will not recognise the Change.org petition signed by almost 6,500 residents calling on the eviction notice served on Hucknall Sports FC to be retracted concerning Papplewick Green playing fields.
At the full council meeting on July 29, Coun Morrison, asked Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), the council leader, if the petition would be recognised by the council and acted upon.
Coun Zadrozny replied explaining that because the petition was raised through the Change.org website and not in line with the councils petition scheme policy, the petition signed by almost 6,500 Ashfield residents wouldn’t be recognised formally.
However, Coun Zadrozny also said that he appreciated the size of the petition and promised he would look at it.
Coun Morrison commented: “This confirms the Ashfield Independents do not want to listen to public concerns regarding youth grassroots football in the local community.
"Hucknall families deserve clarity and transparency from this authority’
Back in February 2020 there was a policy change which meant the council would not accept petitions unless created through their online portal.
Coun Morrison, alongside his Labour and ward colleague Coun Lauren Mitchell, voted against this petition scheme policy change at the time ‘because it was confusing, unnecessary and bureaucratic, not widely known amongst residents’.
In a supplementary question, Coun Morrison asked Coun Zadrozny if he could explain when the lease agreement was made with Sports Gateway, by whom and why no consultation with the club or due diligence was carried out beforehand?
Coun Zadrozny responded by stating that no lease agreement had been reached between the council and Sports Gateway.
He also added that Hucknall Sports have been offered alternative sites to play on.
He said: “Coun Morrison’s recollections are very different from mine after he asked his question at 11.30pm.
"Not many councils in the country accepts petitions from organisations like change.org as you can’t verify addresses to ensure that they are residents.
“You end up with dozens of Mickey Mouses, Barbara Windsors and, dare I say, John Smiths of no fixed address.
"The exchange (at the meeting) was very cordial so I think the keyboard warrior within Keir may have altered his memory.
“The council has a system to accept online petitions.
"It was the same system Ashfield used when he was a senior councillor when Labour ran Ashfield.
“Seeing a large online petition, however, does give us an indication of strength of feeling.
"I will personally look at the petition and I gave Keir that assurance.
"I have also assured Coun Morrison that we are working hard to support all sports clubs in Hucknall and across the Ashfield district.
"I spoke of my frustration that at times they don’t work together.
"I and senior officers have offered to have an official meeting discuss this issue.
"It’s not something he has asked for before now but we would be happy to do so.
"At end of the day, this is about ensuring as many of our sports pitches and sporting facilities are used as widely as possible for the benefit of Hucknall residents.”