03:00PM, Sunday 20 November 2016
A bid by supporters of Hare Hatch Sheeplands to have councillors vote on a petition which called on Wokingham Borough Council do ‘everything it can’ to ensure the garden centre remained a ‘financially viable enterprise’ failed last night.
Instead, an alternative motion, submitted by John Halsall (Con, Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe) was passed, which instead called on the management of London Road-based Sheeplands to ensure it operates as a viable enterprise.
It was passed at the council meeting in Shute End, Wokingham, with most of the Conservatives voting in favour.
The Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors abstained.
No councillor voted against during the meeting, which was attended by several members of the public and Sheeplands owner Rob Scott.
It followed a debate about a petition submitted by former Twyford Village Partnership chairman Patrick Heather, which gained more than 1,500 signatures.
Cllr Mark Ashwell, the cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said businesses needed to ‘collaborate’ with the community, education and government.
He said: “From the interaction I have had with this particular business, I have no doubt that this business does lead with collaboration with community and education.
“From where I see it, and I have told Patrick, this business has fundamentally failed in collaboration with government.
“It has massively fallen out with local government.”
He said Sheeplands had formed an impressive community team but added: “Mobilising community and education to rally against the government surely has got to be a recipe for disaster.
“Businesses must lead. This business isn’t leading, it’s bleating.”
Twyford councillor Lindsay Ferris, leader of the opposition, Liberal Democrats, said: “Hare Hatch Sheeplands is a very well respected business.
“Many residents, including myself have visited this site for many years and it has become part of our community.”
There is an ongoing injunction hearing regarding developments at Hare Hatch Sheeplands in the High Court. No date has yet been set for the hearing’s continuation.
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