Yes, dear reader, I was there and this actually happened – Cllr Vickery-Jones scored a few notable firsts. He is the only person to have called the village green application “crass”, and he is the only person to have called me “pious”.
He also suggested that as a “newcomer” I didn’t have the right to clutter things up with my pesky village green application. He seemed to have forgotten that the application is supported by 1,180 other people, some of whom were using the Downs on a regular basis long before he ever saw the light of day in his native Derbyshire.
He also demonstrated an astonishing lack of understanding in his belief that a village green could in any way only ever benefit a single person.
A row over a Bay beauty spot erupted at a public meeting after a councillor slammed an application to secure village green status for the land as “crass and pious”. Herne and Broomfield councillor Peter Vickery-Jones, 69, speaking at the town’s member panel, blasted “newcomers” to the town for the campaign to register the Downs as a village green. Leaving councillors and campaigner Phil Rose stunned, he said:
“This is a crass application, it doesn’t empower local people. Newcomers to the town are damaging what we’re trying to do.”
The broadside came amid debate over council plans for a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Field, which would transform a vast swath of the town’s coast, including the Downs, into a legal trust “to protect the land for leisure and recreation”.
Friends of the Downs member Phil Rose had asked council officers why they had claimed certain clean-up activities around the Downs had to be cancelled until the village green inquiry – which has been postponed until March after the £500-per-day lawyer brought in by the council fell ill – had been concluded. He said:
“None of the items in the QE2 Coastal Park action plan that are being deferred pending the outcome of the village green application actually need to be deferred for that reason.”
Officers had claimed community clean-ups and plans to clear a channel at Bishopstone Glen needed to be put on ice until the fight over the Downs had been resolved. They were forced to backtrack when Mr Rose pointed out that the Bishopstone Glen lay outside the village green application area. But Mr Vickery-Jones said:
“This application serves to empower one person who has picked up bad information. And now his pious and lamentably late concerns about what that involves show that he’s trying to wriggle out of his responsibilities.”
thisiskent 19th Jan 2012