Group mail council every day over city farm bid delays

Group mail council every day over city farm bid delays

Steering group chairwoman Lucie Mayer, front right, with, rear, Anna Beekmayer, 11, resident Juliet Rayment, Penny and Heather Singer-Pritchard, aged six and eight respectively, Luca Beeekmayer, seven, and resident Jackie Singer

One of the designs

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

CITY Farm campaigners are piling pressure on council leaders by inundating their postbags with daily postcards.

Oxford City Farm steering group want to turn a plot of land in Florence Park into a city farm with animals and crops.

In September 2012, the group was told the farm could go on land which belongs to St Gregory the Great School in Cowley.

The group began negotiations over the lease for the land, off Cornwallis Road, with the county council.

Paperwork from the group was submitted in July last year and it was expected the council would do the same.

But a year on, campaigners say nothing has progressed, so they have resorted to sending postcards every day to keep council leaders on their toes.

The group’s chairwoman Lucie Mayer said: “A report needs to go to a committee that meets every month.

“We did our part of the report in July 2013, and we turned it around very quickly in just two weeks.

“A council worker needs to add her perspective to our report before it can go to the meeting.

“It would only take her a couple of hours, and it’s been on her desk for a year.”

The 42-year-old, who lives in Florence Park, said: “We’re at an impasse.

“We have got a piece of land, loads of councillor support, but no movement.”

To push the council into action, the group has been posting cards to council leader Ian Hudspeth every day with messages of frustration.

Ms Mayer, a nurse at Helen & Douglas House hospice, said: “We have had postcards made by local artists and we’re sending them and saying ‘Come on! Why are we waiting?’ “We have been very gentle and patient, but we want to talk about it a bit more now.

“They say that they just don’t have the time, and you can accept that for so long, but we want to push it a bit.”

Fellow member and Florence Park resident Philip Pritchard, 43, said: “We’re simply frustrated about the slowness. The land has just been sitting there for five or six years and it’s being wasted. We really want to create something magical and special and we can see it – but we can’t because of this.

“A city farm would help to build community cohesion and give young people a place to go and learn about nature and learn new skills.”

County council spokesman Paul Smith said: “Up until recently this land was set aside for use by St Gregory the Great School, however, upon conversion to academy status, St Gregory’s conclu-ded that they did not require the land.

“The council is likely to support this initiative and is very much aware that there is a desire for it to be progressed.”

He refused to comment on the delay, but said: “We are currently working on this and hope to be able to provide a positive update in the near future.”

Mr Hudspeth did not respond to requests for a comment.

 

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