Parks future may be in the balance but councillor remains tight-lipped

Broom Park being enjoyed by the community
Broom Park being enjoyed by the community

A new storm is brewing over the potential loss of a well-loved and much-used Newton Mearns greenspace to more housing.

The town’s Broom Park has been included in East Renfrewshire Council’s Main Issues Report (MIR), identified as a site that could be used for housing in the future.

Cllr Caroline Bamforth is staying silent over the future of Broom Park

Cllr Caroline Bamforth is staying silent over the future of Broom Park

This has led to anger from residents, who have set up a ‘Save Broom Park’ Facebook page.

The park is in the Newton Mearns South and Eaglesham Ward, which is represented by four councillors.

The three Conservative councillors - Jim Swift, Jim McLean and Barbara Grant - have said they will oppose any development.

But the fourth, the SNP’s Caroline Bamforth, has refused to be drawn on her position.

Councillor Bamforth said: “My concern is by expressing an opinion, prior to all evidence being available, I could be accused of not acting impartially at a vote, as Broom Park is a specific site mentioned in the MIR and LDP.”

Councillor Bamforth went on to say she had sought legal advice from the council and that their opinion was she was correct in her stance.

But her fellow councillors have argued that there is no reason for her to remain silent on the issue.

Long-standing councillor Barbara Grant said: “This is simple. There is no reason whatsoever for any part of the park to be used for anything other than recreation.”

Cllr Swift said: “This is not a planning application, nor is it specific, it is about the principle of development in an area.

“Subsequently if any development is approved, then the site would be added to the Local Development Plan (LDP) and a proposal will come forward.

“As it would then become an approved site, it would not be varying from the LDP, so only the Planning Applications Committee will vote on it.

“Councillor Bamforth does not sit on that committee.

“Perhaps the electorate who voted Councillor Bamforth into power should be asking some searching questions of her on her refusal to state an opinion on this specific issue.”

He went further, saying: “I am against the proposals to build on the park. Newton Mearns does not have adequate infrastructure, less than 50 per cent of people who live here have access to a local GP, the sewers are full and we keep building on the periphery of Newton Mearns.

“The proposed local development plan has as one of its key goals to protect and enhance urban greenspace.

“I have news for the people that came up with this wheeze, we wouldn’t be protecting it, by building on it.”

And Councillor Jim McLean agreed with his fellow Conservatives, telling The Extra: “My stance on the proposals for Broom Park have always been the same.

“I am opposed to the proposals as they stand to building on Broom Park.

“Any constituent I have spoken to with regards to this issue is against it.

“I made my position clear when asked that very same question while attending a husting at Mearns Castle High School before the election in May.

“These proposals go against the current LDP and as such I am firmly against them.”