Political row grows over controversial Hucknall 3G football pitch plans
A bid to build a 3G pitch and sports fa ci lity on open space in Hucknall has sparked a heated political row, with the town's MP questioning the legitimacy of the whole proposal.
Conservative Mark Spencer has waded in after being contacted by a number of concerned residents in and around the Papplewick Green area, where the pitch would be sited.
Mr Spencer has highlighted concerns over links between the project applicant, well-known Hucknall man Jamie Brough, and Ashfield Independents on Ashfield District Council, the authority that will decide on whether the project gets planning permission.
This is after it emerged that Mr Brough allegedly supported the party during the recent Nottinghamshire County Council elections.
But Ashfield District Council leader, Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ind), vehemently dismissed this as political point-scoring from Mr Spencer, whom he labelled "the worst MP Hucknall had ever had"
And Mr Brough explained how he had signed nomination papers for an Independent standing in the county council elections and this was done with "complete transparency".
The plans for the space off Kenbrook Road in Hucknall would be for a 3G pitch, which would be usable for other sports aside from football, and modular classrooms.
Mr Brough says it is something the for the whole town that Hucknall needs, but many local residents are opposed to the plans, saying it will cause added noise and light pollution, increased traffic problems in the area and take away recreational space for the community.
Mr Spencer said: “I have received a number of emails about the planning application for the land off of Papplewick Green.
“I completely understand the concerns that have been raised with me.
"It would be a huge shame to lose this land as a public resource for the whole community.
“Something that has been raised with me is concerns about the legitimacy and legality of the application.
“It has come to my attention that the applicant signed the nomination papers of an Ashfield Independent candidates at the county council elections – which he is entirely entitled to do.
"However, this does raise questions about the legitimacy of the application.
"I am therefore calling on the Ashfield Independents and the applicant to release any correspondence, private or public, which relates to the application.
“I am also calling on the council to release any commercial agreements, or correspondence that relates to both the application or the applicant so that the public and councillors are in possession of the full facts.
“This is a planning application for a private facility on public land.
"We must know what is going on.
“It is completely understandable why residents feel like this public space is being taken from them from right under their noses.
“If a deal has been done, it would be deeply unethical and illegitimate, and I would hope that this would be given a full and proper hearing.
“I have submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the council to shed some light on this matter.”
Responding to Mr Spencer’s comments, Coun Zadrozny said: “This is a pathetic attempt to score political points over an application that is set to benefit young people across Hucknall.
"It is interesting that Mr Spencer is alleging malpractice when the opposite is the case.
"This is the same man that is in charge of Government discipline.
"How dare the worst MP that Hucknall has ever had accuse the Ashfield Independents of any wrongdoing?
“Let me make it clear to the Mr Spencer that the applicant signed nomination papers for a county council candidate in an area not covered by the application.
"This was for a candidate who doesn’t sit on the planning committee of Ashfield District Council
"Of course, Mr Spencer knows all of this – it is all a matter of public record and is completely transparent.
"This is unlike the Conservative Government which refuses to reveal details of PPE contracts that have turned Conservative supporters into multi-millionaires.
"It was only when the Ashfield Independents started to win landslide elections in our area that he took an interest in Hucknall.
"These allegations are made for purely self-serving, political purposes and doesn’t do anything to improve Hucknall.
"The Ashfield Independents will continue to put Hucknall first.
"Yet again, Mr Spencer’s contribution to Hucknall is statements that are as vacuous as Hucknall’s thousands of pot holes.”
Mr Brough told the Dispatch: “Hucknall is in dire need of community sports facilities and if our application is successful this will help address this.
"I am a friend of Coun Lee Waters and I was pleased to sign his nomination papers as he works hard for residents in Hucknall.
"I have never made a secret of this and my name was actually published in a completely transparent process.
"At no point have I asked for nor expect any favours for this.
"I will back anybody who is good for Hucknall and especially supportive of improving services for our young people.
“The new facility would offer something for the whole of Hucknall, not just for those who play football but play netball or other sports, which something like this can accommodate.
"I am pleased that Mr Spencer is finally taking an interest in Hucknall and the reduction in sporting facilities on his Tory Government’s watch.
"I would be happy to meet with him on site and go through our ambitious plans that would be an enormous benefit to Hucknall.”
Currently a decision is due to be taken on the plans on July 5.
Follow the Dispatch for all the latest developments.