Corby & East Northants MP set to have second reading of bill to protect playing fields

Tom Pursglove with Jo Trott and Julie Grove at the school playing field in Oundle last year
Tom Pursglove with Jo Trott and Julie Grove at the school playing field in Oundle last year

MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire Tom Pursglove is set to have the second reading of his Local Area Referendum (Disposal of School Playing Fields) Bill 2015-16 on Friday.

The bill came about in support of thousands of constituents concerned by the proposed selling of a school playing field at the site of Oundle Primary School.

The Oundle Recreation and Green Spaces Group, under the chairmanship of Julie Grove, has been running a campaign to save the playing field and has now branched out to campaign against the selling of Fletton Fields in Oundle for housing development.

These campaigns have shown the need for a bill like this and the importance of having a mechanism in place to give communities a say over their local land.

The bill would enshrine in law that, should a local authority want to sell off playing field land, they must go through the process of a statutory consultation.

Should a verifiable 10 per cent of electors in any ward affected sign that petition, it would trigger a local referendum, and the result would be binding.

This would ensure that the strength of feeling from people living in that area is reflected in any decisions taken in relation to local playing fields.

Mr Pursglove said: “I am strongly opposed to the sale of the playing field at the site of Oundle Primary School and my bill would help to give greater protection to communities in situations where proposals of this sort come forward. “How can it be right that, where a petition has been signed by 4,000 people, in a town of 4,500, this can simply be ignored, and the land sold, against the wishes of the local community.

“Once playing field land is sold, it is gone forever.”