Campaigners have their fight to save green space in Oundle raised in Parliament

Ian Talbot, Tom Pursglove MP, Paul Kirkpatrick, Julie Grove and Jo Trott at the Houses of Parliament
Ian Talbot, Tom Pursglove MP, Paul Kirkpatrick, Julie Grove and Jo Trott at the Houses of Parliament

Campaigners fighting to save green space in Oundle were invited to London for the second reading of a bill which could give communities a greater say in the future.

MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire Tom Pursglove had 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.

If it became law, should a local authority want to sell off playing field land, it would have to go through 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.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Friday, Mr Pursglove said: “On 29 June 2015 when I first introduced this bill, we were coming up to our great British summer.

“It is a time when we see increased use of our open spaces for sports such as tennis and more importantly, in my view, cricket, as well as walking and other activities.

“The bill’s second reading comes at the start of the new year, when everyone has probably eaten a little too much over Christmas and is motivated to kick the year off by exercising, or perhaps by joining a new club or team organisations that take pride in using local pitches and playing field facilities.

“Dare I mention last year’s rugby world cup?

“Although England did not make the final rounds, many young people were captivated, and the players of tomorrow are now halfway through the rugby union season.

“School playing fields are a vital part of local life, and in many cases they bring together communities through their use by local sports teams, as well as by school pupils at breaks, lunchtimes and PE lessons.

“The bill will give residents a real say over the future of their local recreational ground, something that currently is explicitly limited to a local authority decision.”

Mr Pursglove invited members of the Oundle Recreation and Green Spaces Group, which has been campaigning to save the playing field and is now campaigning against the selling of Fletton Fields in Oundle for housing development, to hear the second reading.

Despite the debate being postponed to March 11 due to time limitations, the group was pleased to see the issue raised at a national level.

Group chairman Julie Grove said: “Despite Tom Pursglove’s bill being delayed, it still brings our plight to the fore and we will continue to represent Oundle’s case for maintaining green spaces and protecting our school playing field.

“It’s imperative that the Secretary of State has the true picture of our situation and we will lobby her with the continued support of our local MP.”

A bill is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law, presented for debate before Parliament.

A bill can start in the Commons or the Lords and must be approved in the same form by both houses before becoming an act.