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Labour volunteers tackle ‘off limits’ playing fields as part of Big Spring Clean

Labour volunteers took part in the city’s annual Big Spring Clean over the weekend as they set to the task of litter picking on the well used former Manor School playing fields on Boroughbridge Road.

Volunteers clean up former Manor School playing fields

Acomb Labour councillor Stuart Barnes led a team of volunteers which included York Central MP Rachael Maskell, cleaning up the former playing fields, a green space well used by local residents in the area.
Cllr. Barnes has been working to secure the former school playing fields as designated open green space for the community to enjoy in the future, given the lack of such space in Acomb ward.
Cllr. Barnes said 'I was delighted that our MP, Rachael Maskell, was able to join us for the litter pick and help ensure that this popular area with the public is in a good state as we head into Spring.
'I remain firmly committed to securing the area as a green space for public enjoyment as at present, it technically remains off limits to the public. This is a bit of a joke as the litter pick on Saturday collected bags and bags of rubbish so clearly people are using the field.
'Meanwhile, the Council’s ludicrous position of pretending the site isn’t open to the public means that we can’t install rubbish or dog-waste bins, despite the big problem with dog waste on the site. Nor can we begin planning to have children’s play equipment, outdoor gym equipment or sports use approved or installed on the site. 
'Whatever the council’s excuses, it’s ultimately Acomb residents who are losing out, and holding the litter-pick on the fields was a good way of highlighting the issue and the Council’s pretence that the site isn’t being used. I suppose it was a minor act of civil disobedience designed to both get the place cleaned up and encourage the Conservative-led Council to do the right thing and get the fields opened up with decent facilities installed.
'Despite more than 540 residents signing a petition, it seems that there is no political will on the part of the Conservative-led Council to do the right thing.'
The Press reported in December that Cllr. Barnes had asked for options to be explored including consulting with local residents when the petition was considered by the then Conservative executive member, Cllt. Chris Steward. At that time, the request was ignored with the Council instead sticking to its position that the site remains ‘off limits’ to residents, with no approval for work to begin for establishing a public space.  
'This is hugely disappointing and a real let down for local people', commented Cllr. Barnes. 'I made representations to Cllr. Steward, the former Executive Member who formally received the petition at a decision making session in December.
'Sadly, the will was clearly not there. I hope by persisting I will get a better response from his successor, the council leader. If Cllr. Carr won’t support progressing public space status for the site, then it sends a very clear signal to Acomb residents that local amenity is less important for them than it is for residents elsewhere in the city.'

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