A FAMILY fun day attracted disgruntled campaigners who say their views on the site have been ‘railroaded’.
Saturday’s event at Whitchurch Playing Fields, which was attacked by a Conservative councillor as a ‘gimmicky bread and circuses’ stunt, was organised by the consortium selected by the council to develop on the site – as an indication of its vision for the fields in Whitchurch Lane, Edgware.
But angry opponents of the project turned up to stage a protest and petition for greater consultation.
Speaking after the fun day, which saw a host of football tournaments and boxing demonstrations enjoyed by children, Michelle Stern, co-chairperson of the Abchurch Residents Association, said: “We have just been kept in the dark and no one seems to be answering our questions.
“The meeting in March, and even this fun day, were very badly publicised.
“We only found out through chance, when we should be the ones they are trying to attract.”
Deputy leader of the opposition, Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane, said before the event: “I think the Whitchurch Consortium is being utterly disingenuous in holding this event and advertising it in the way in which they are.
“It’s being billed as a ‘Family Fun Day’, but this development deserves proper consultation with residents, not gimmicky bread and circuses stunts.”
The site went out to tender in 2009 but, following delays, was back on the agenda last year.
Harrow Council selected the out-of-borough leisure group Whitchurch Consortium as its preferred bidder, but neighbours and residents association members claimed they were not given the chance to voice their opinions.
The consortium plans to demolish the dilapidated pavilion and build a three-storey replacement with changing rooms, a swimming pool and sauna, a gym, and an artificial, floodlit football pitch.
In March, the group held a public meeting to discuss their plans, but even Labour councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, the man responsible for choosing the bidder, slammed their efforts saying he was ‘not impressed’ with their presentation, which he described as ‘not adequate’.
Alvin Mahen, spokesman for the Whitchurch Consortium, said: “We have been delighted with the passion and enthusiasm the community has shown towards our proposal.
“Our door to door consultation has been invaluable. Not only to enable us to mitigate some of the concerns raised, but also we are delighted to be able to include some of the very positive suggestions made by members of the public.
“We would like to emphasise, the consortium takes consultation very seriously especially as we of recognise that this project will sit at the heart of an established community.
“Not only was the Fun Day an opportunity for people to learn more about the project and have their say, it was also an opportunity for existing community groups to demonstrate what they are aspiring to offer local residents.”