CAMPAIGNERS fighting to protect meadows will not get the hearing they wanted.
Members of pressure group the Friends of Pinn Meadows (FOPM) says the 5,255 people across the borough who signed a petition to protect the meadows, in Ruislip, will be frustrated it will not be discussed at the full Hillingdon Council meeting, following a rule change.
FOPM is preparing itself for a future application by Eastcote Hockey Club to build a floodlit artificial turf pitch in King’s College Road, Ruislip, within Pinn Meadows, and in April organised a petition asking the council to designate the meadows a village green.
But at the council’s annual meeting last month, members agreed to revise the rules on petitions.
Before May 9, any petition of more than 2,500 signatures was seen by the full council before it would be sent to the appropriate council officers or committee, but know they will all be fast-tracked ‘to speed up the process’.
Despite handing its petition in before that date, FOPM says it was told the rule would be applied retrospectively.
Chairman Rob Cousins said: “We are disappointed because we know we had a lot of support from local councillors in this.
“The council are using this as an opportunity to avoid a debate on the issue. The council always says it is putting residents first. It doesn’t appear that they are talking the talk in this situation.”
FOPM campaigner Martin Cartwright, who collected several of the signatures for the petition, said: “I think the 5,000 people who signed up thinking that the petition would be heard by all councillors will be very annoyed to hear that it won’t now.
“We would be happier to wait longer and have it seen by the full council than to have it rushed through the process.”
Family and friends of FOPM members got together on Sunday for a picnic in the meadows as part of the Eden Project’s Big Lunch campaign, to get as many people as possible across the UK to have lunch with their neighbours.
People at the picnic enjoyed food and games and children got to ride on Ruislip fire station’s fire engine.
In a statement, Hillingdon Council said: “As part of an overall review of the petitions scheme, Hillingdon Council has speeded up the process for hearing petitions by making sure they are all fast-tracked to the appropriate cabinet member or committee.
“They then hold a meeting in public at the earliest opportunity to discuss the petition directly with residents, ensuring it is dealt with faster.
“The Friends of Pinn Meadows petition will be heard by the relevant cabinet member.
“The streamlining of the system was agreed by councillors in May at the full council meeting.”