Football pitch won't make way for car park

THE football pitches at Riverside Park in Huntingdon are safe, district councillor Mike Simpson promised at an election meeting on Thursday. Cllr Simpson (Cons), who is standing for re-election in Huntingdon East, gave an assurance that Huntingdonshire Di

THE football pitches at Riverside Park in Huntingdon are safe, district councillor Mike Simpson promised at an election meeting on Thursday.

Cllr Simpson (Cons), who is standing for re-election in Huntingdon East, gave an assurance that Huntingdonshire District Council would finally shelve its plans to turn one of the football pitches into a car park.

The park currently has two pitches, home to Sunday league football teams, and 300 long-stay car park spaces. It emerged in August that the council planned to realign the car park and add another 150 spaces, removing one of the football pitches in the process.

Protestors launched a campaign to save the green space, backed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the town's sports community.

On Thursday, at meeting at Huntingdon Methodist Church, which also involved Labour, Lib Dem and Green Party election candidates, Cllr Simpson promised: "We have saved the two football pitches. They are safe."

The meeting, called to make sure that the park became an election issue ahead of the elections on Thursday, May 3, also addressed other environmental topics for the town.

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Leader of the Green Party group, John Clare, who lives in Warboys and is standing for the Huntingdon North seat on HDC, highlighted Huntingdon's traffic and parking problems.

"Huntingdon is choking - it is cut off by traffic. We want to free the town from its traffic island prison. Are we really proposing to bring more cars inside the ring road? That is the last thing we should be doing. Huntingdon needs a park and ride system."

Mr Clare added that the Greens would introduce free insulation for every home in Huntingdon.

Peter Downs, Lib Dem leader and councillor for Brampton, said Huntingdon faced 10 years of disruption with alterations to the ring road, the new library and the development of other buildings, including Pathfinder House.

"The dismissal of a park and ride scheme is based on old thinking, we could have mini buses and when the viaduct comes down, that would be a good place to park from which you could walk to the railway station and walk into the town centre. We need to keep the green spaces in town."

Labour candidate, Ruth Pugh, standing in Huntingdon Town Council's North Ward, said: "I have lived in Huntingdon for 24 years. We need a park and ride system with a free, gas-powered bus, which people can rely on because they know it will be there every 10 minutes. There has been a lot of growth in the town, bringing more traffic and more building and a lack of the services to support it."

Also standing in:

Huntingdon East: Peter Fleming (LD), David King (L) and Antony Staples (G)

Huntingdon North: Ann Beevor (L), Sam Kemp (LD), Maggie Wheeler (C)

North Ward Huntingdon Town Council (four seats): Ann Beevor (L), David Brown (L), Sonia Dyne (C), David King (L), Jan Mace (C), Alan MacKender-Lawrence (C), John Morgan (LD), Christopher Osborn (LD), Maggie Wheeler (C).

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