09:33AM, Friday 15 October 2021
A decision taken to open a path across Battlemead Common’s East Field is set to be scrutinised after a call-in was submitted by five opposition councillors.
Cllrs John Baldwin, Mandy Brar, Karen Davies, Geoff Hill and Simon Werner have submitted the required document to the council, paving the way for it to be scrutinised by councillors at a future overview and scrutiny panel.
The call-in has been received as the five councillors believe the decision taken at cabinet is ‘contrary to the Policy Framework’, specifically the Environment and Climate Strategy 2020-25 and Local Transport Plan 2012-26.
A number of reasons have been given for the call-in; firstly, the councillors have said the decision taken at cabinet does not ‘pursue creation of additional wetland habitat in the northern part of the East Field’.
Opposition councillors said this was referenced in a proposal presented to the Friends of Battlemead Steering Group, although was not included in the final cabinet decision.
Furthermore, concerns have been raised that the decision was ‘prejudicial to the creation of a Borough-wide Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)’, which is yet to be published, and that, without a BAP, cabinet were not yet in a position to ‘manage the borough’s biodiversity assets’ in a way as envisaged by the climate strategy.
A further reason for the call-in, this time in relation to a local transport plan, was that the decision was ‘considered’ to be contrary to a policy that requires RBWM to ‘actively’ seek the mitigate the impacts of transport movements by routing people away from sensitive sites.
Cllr Donna Stimson, lead member for parks and countryside, said she was ‘sort of surprised’ by the call-in and said that the council would pursue the creation of additional wetland habitat.
“We’re going to do that anyway, of course we are,” said Cllr Stimson.
“When I talk to experts in the field, including directors of rewilding charities such as Rewilding Britain, they are happy with the decision we have made.
“I don’t feel that my decision and the officers’ decision was wrong. I am someone who cares deeply about biodiversity.
On the issue of the decision being taken prior to the publication of the BAP, Cllr Stimson said: “I don’t think that is a justifiable reason [for the call-in].”