PUBLIC pressure could force a u-turn on a decision to ban motorists parking on a piece of land outside a village church. The land outside Eaton Socon Parish Church in Great North Road had been used by shoppers, church goers, community groups and parents

PUBLIC pressure could force a u-turn on a decision to ban motorists parking on a piece of land outside a village church.

The land outside Eaton Socon Parish Church in Great North Road had been used by shoppers, church goers, community groups and parents dropping off their children to out of school clubs.

But they were banned from leaving their cars on the site by St Neots Town Council, which owns the land, to help save some cash.

Councillors decided that the potholes on the land made it unsafe and said they could not justify spending taxpayers' money on constant repairs.

Instead they voted to return the land to village green at a cost of £2,495 for laying grass and fencing off the area.

However, the backlash has been swift with villagers outraged by the decision and one resident even branding it a "dictatorial act of vandalism".

Cecilia Parrott, of Bushmead Gardens, Eaton Socon said the decision had deprived the community of a facility which is essential to village life.

"As an inhabitant of Eaton Socon for over 40 years I wish to place on record my great anger and amazement at this arrogant and dictatorial act of vandalism by the council," she told The Hunts Post. "I want the council reconsiders its decision."

Fellow Eaton Socon resident Linda Walton, of Barley Road, added: "I feel disgusted that people we have put into office have refused to reinstate this well-used facility."

Eaton Socon district and county councillor, Bob Farrer, also criticised the decision, saying it showed the council to be "devoid of common sense and practicability".

He said he would be addressing the council at its meeting tonight (Wednesday) as he had found a company willing to repair the potholes for free.

Previously, the town council had said it would cost £2,400 to fill in the potholes, £6,700 to lay tarmac or £975 to put down gravel. However, there would be recurring costs.

Town mayor Cllr Gordon Thorpe said: "If someone makes an offer of cost sharing or something similar than it is my belief that the council could revisit its decision."

However, leader of the council, Cllr Julia Hayward, said it might not be that simple.

"There were complaints about the safety of the land which meant that the status quo was no longer tenable. The land outside the church is registered as part of the village green, which affords it some legal protection from being developed and is also in a conservation area so turning it into a surfaced car park would be a lengthy planning process and include a substantial cost."

INFORMATION: Should the land be used for parking or village green? E-mail your views to editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB.