Ashburton Park remains a priority

By - Thursday 4th July, 2013

Conservative councillor Adam Kellett responds to some of Stephen Mann’s points about Ashburton’s much-maligned park

The future of the former Ashburton Library building – and the future of Ashburton Park in general – is an issue of great importance to local residents. As one of the ward councillors for Ashburton, I very much welcome discussion about it on popular sites such as The Croydon Citizen.

In his recent article, entitled We can still save Ashburton Park, prospective Labour candidate Stephen Mann could have chosen to make a positive and constructive contribution to the debate. Instead he undermined his case by writing a piece containing several inaccuracies and a thinly-veiled political attack.

Along with technical inaccuracies – such as suggesting that the race course was in Ashburton Park when it was in fact on the Stroud Green estate – the piece failed to properly give the context and explain the good work that the council has done in this area. Many people have fond memories of using the library and enjoying the greenery of the park during their lives in the borough. As such, I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify the situation and correct the inaccuracies.

The fact that we inherited the building in such a state of disrepair made matters complicated

Firstly, there is a certain irony that this article is coming from a Labour party activist. While I have no intention of engaging in petty party-political point scoring, it is important to be clear on the context. It was the previous Labour administration that left the site vacant. In their wisdom, the library was moved to the Ashburton Learning Village and no plan was made for the future of the premises.

When the Conservatives returned to office, finding a use for the library was made a priority; however the fact that we inherited the building in such a state of disrepair made matters complicated. Significant investment would be essential to make the space usable.

While Mr Mann has, of course, every right to present his views it should be remembered that he writes from the perspective of a Labour supporter, and with the selective view of history that that entails. I would however like to take the opportunity to congratulate Stephen on his selection as a prospective Labour candidate for Ashburton ward and I look forward to meeting him on the campaign trail.

The planning restrictions state that it must be utilised for educational or community use

But of course, it is the future that people are interested in. To that end, it is important to spell out the work that has been happening to find a new use for the former library.

Given the building’s former usage, the planning restrictions state that it must be utilised for educational or community use. Considering this context, it of course made sense talk to local schools and other education providers and find out if they had the resources to make it appropriate for that need.

When it became apparent that, sadly, none of these options would succeed, the council decided that we should do all we can to ensure that the building is put to use for the good of the whole community

I would love to hear from anyone who has a view as to what should be done

As a result, the council will shortly instruct agents to liaise with local community organisations across the borough with an aim of finding someone who can make a positive use of the building.

However, despite the various circumstances that have made it difficult to find a quick solution for the library building, investment in the park has continued. After persuasion from the local councillors, there was a refurbishment and upgrading of the play area – another aspect of the park that the Conservative council inherited in poor condition.

As I said at the beginning of my article, I am highly aware of how important the park is to the people of Ashburton. Therefore I would love to hear from anyone who has a view as to what should be done. In turn, I can ensure that this is fed back to the council. I know I speak on behalf of all the ward councillors when I say that we look forward to working with local residents and community groups to preserve this fantastic part of Ashburton where so many happy hours have been spent.

Adam Kellett

Adam Kellett

Born in West London, I moved to Croydon in 2001 to put down roots and raise a family. Unintentionally I became involved in local issues and found myself becoming increasingly active politically. I was elected onto Croydon Council at the second attempt in 2010 as a Conservative for Ashburton Ward. I am currently Deputy Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care.

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  • Anne Giles

    Excellent. Good for you.