Concerns raised over new covered seating area in Raunds

Cllrs Lee Wilkes, Richard Levell, Steven North and Wendy Brackenbury by the new seating area in Raunds
Cllrs Lee Wilkes, Richard Levell, Steven North and Wendy Brackenbury by the new seating area in Raunds

A covered seating area in the centre of Raunds is nearing completion.

The canopy is now in place and it is just the seating and electrical works including the installation of CCTV left to be completed.

But while the finishing touches are being made, not everyone is happy about the addition to the town’s Square.

David Anderson lives nearby and has raised several concerns with Raunds Town Council about the new facility, which he says is a bandstand rather than a seating area.

He says there has been no consultation with people living nearby, he fears there will be audible nuisance and disruption when the bandstand is in use, and he has questioned who will be taking action if any trouble is captured on the CCTV cameras.

Another concern is noise from people taking cover in the bandstand when nearby drinking establishments close.

Mr Anderson said: “I doubt I can stop it, but I can make them feel very uncomfortable about it.

“I really feel strongly about it.”

He has also written to his MP Tom Pursglove about the issue.

In response to the concerns raised, a spokesman for Raunds Town Council said: “The town council are aware of some concerns raised by local residents regarding the seating area and are happy to address these.

“The town council certainly doesn’t want to cause a disturbance to any of our local residents.

“CCTV is being installed that will provide a 360 degree view of the area and along with other cameras on the Square provides a complete view of all activities on the Square.

“The town council will continue to work with the police and all our partners to ensure that anti-social behaviour in the town remains at a very low level.

“No parking spaces are being lost as a result of this project.

“The area being used is where a tree previously stood, which unfortunately had to be removed for safety reasons.

“In addition the project is 100 per cent funded through grants or contributions from local housebuilders, called Section 106 grants.

“Therefore none of the cost of this project is being met by local council tax payers.

“We do hope that local residents enjoy this newly improved space.”

The idea behind making improvements to the Square came from the ‘Vision for Raunds,’ the adopted community plan resulting from consultation with residents and local businesses.

The vision sets a blueprint for the future requirements of the town, including improving the economic vibrancy of the town and improving the look of the Square.

This led to the council developing a plan for improvements to the Square, including the introduction of planters, a digital noticeboard, new play equipment and the installation of the covered seating area.

The purpose of the covered seating area is two-fold.

Many residents, especially older people, have said they would spend more time in the town centre if they were able to sit and take a break.

It is hoped the seating will assist those people, but may also have a positive impact for local businesses as those spending longer in the town are more likely to use local businesses.

The second reason is people have told the council they want to see more events on the Square.

Activities already booked include performances from the community choir, a face painter for children, a ukulele orchestra and police surgeries.

Events on the Square kick off on May 26 when Raunds Community Choir aims to get the town singing with a community sing-a-long.