Thank you Mr Chairman for allowing me to talk tonight on behalf of the "Save Rammell Field” Campaign.
My name is Howard Cox, I
have lived in Cranbrook for 13 years, I run a communications business from
Cranbrook and I am also the Chair of the Team that is working to build a new
community centre in our Town.
As you can see by tonight’s
gathering, this issue has stirred up considerable feeling amongst our
We feel passionately that the Parish Council should get behind our campaign. This is for many reasons Mr Chairman, but mainly because 1700 of your Parishioners have signed up to support this fight against any potential development on Rammell Memorial Field. And this number is growing.
I have been strongly prompted by the Field’s Trustees that this land is known legally as "The Cranbrook School War Memorial Playing Field”.
Well, this legal title interestingly says everything about what we are fighting for. "Playing field” and "Memorial”. These are the key words that encompass the reason why we feel so strongly about this issue.
Yesterday I received an email from the Chairman of the Trustees that informed me that The Cranbrook School War Memorial Playing Field was not left to the community. It was purchased in 1922 by the Old Cranbrookians for use by the school as a playing field. And because Cranbrook School 90 years ago was an independent school, he said it cannot be inferred that school use was intended as community use.
us asking for the ownership details and to date being completely ignored, the
current owners of the land whoever they are, have indeed allowed the community
to use the land over many decades.
As a result, in the last 50 years and more, this field has been at the heart of many outdoor Cranbrook community events. The Annual Fun Day, Apple Fair, Fetes, Fun Fairs, Sports occasions and much more.
This attractive gateway to Cranbrook from the east has been the perfect focus for outdoor community gatherings and playing sports.
Dare I mention this; we can honestly say and with respect to the Trustees, that the Memorial Field is notionally Cranbrook’s Village Green.
And up until recent months before the Trustees padlocked all access to the field, local residents have actively enjoyed and respected this open space.
BUT, we hear however, that one local resident has been warned in writing that if she walks into the field anymore, she will be deemed as trespassing.
These bullying and arrogant tactics will only strengthen the resolve of the community to fight any development ambitions.
It seems that the Trustees are saying that we have no community claim on this land for even occasional usage and therefore they have the right to do what they want with the field.
strongly object to this.
The usage of Village Green Applications in order to prevent building development, has been overused by many across the UK and even in Cranbrook too. Our campaign team does not support the political usage of this tactic.
BUT in this case Mr Chairman, "The Cranbrook School War Memorial Playing Field” ticks all the boxes to be designated as a true Village Green. So we will continue to fight to get this accreditation for the Memorial Field.
We remain hugely disappointed by the Parish Council voting to not support the Village Green Application at your last meeting in March. Especially as in your October meeting Mr Chairman, the council agreed to back the application.
It makes no sense that whilst we understand you don’t support any development on the Memorial Field, you voted against the most effective way that could help stop it happening.
We also understand there were many abstentions at the March vote. How could that have happened when you are against any development on the Field? I repeat it makes no sense.
We believe that because of your collective action, it means that planning could now be sought by the might of Cranbrook School and the Trustees for development through sale of the land without any "village Green” status protection.
Mr Chairman, your Council
may have given "implied consent” for Cranbrook School to proceed with a route
to development and to hell with the 1700 local residents who object to it.
In yesterday’s email that I received from the Chairman of the Trustees, he says and I quote…..
"The Trustees of the field are not looking at selling the field for development”.
At this point I was very encouraged by this initial stance, but on further reading in the next part of the same sentence, and again I quote, he goes onto say:
"but have submitted the land for consideration within the Cranbrook plan for development”.
You must understand the
serious paradox here and why local residents remain anxious.
We understand the TWBC pressure to build 300 homes in Cranbrook. We are not objecting to that, only that any such building should not take place on "The Cranbrook School War Memorial Playing Field”.
I have responded on behalf
of the 1700 supporters of the Campaign by asking if the Trustees are planning
to sell the "Field” for development. As yet I still have not had a reply to
this question. I also asked if we could have a meeting to find a way forward
that benefits all involved. The Chairman has agreed to this request.
And to Councillor Cook, thank you for your diatribe you sent to me, you have got it so wrong; it is not a question of property prices and personal gain, it’s about the memory of the fallen and the principle of honouring the promise to them.
Cranbrook School has other
land to help release capital investment opportunities. They could also use this
opportunity of local community worry to get more involved with our community.
By keeping the field as it is, it will endear them to Cranbrook local residents
So we ask your Councillors Mr Chairman, please revisit your decision tonight.
We implore you all to back your local parishioners who care passionately that this field, left in the memory of those from Cranbrook who served and died in the Great War, should remain as a Sports Playing Field and in Perpetuity.
Your quote on the front page of the Courier is apt Mr Chairman, please don’t let your Council live to regret last month’s decision.
Please, Parish Councillors support the Village Green Application on "The Cranbrook School War Memorial Playing Field”.