One of the things that we have heard a lot of concern about, and yet not a lot of information has been forthcoming about, is the Old Gaol sale, and more recently Tilsley Park being “Gifted” to Abingdon School.
A while ago, after seeing a suggestion on the Abingdon Blog from a Town Councillor, we contacted David Buckle the Chief Executive, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.
Today he very kindly responded, for which we are very grateful, and so we have published the original email from us, and below that David Buckle’s response.
Dear Mr Buckle,
After reading some comments on the excellent Abingdon Blog website, we saw that an Abingdon Councillor advised someone to contact you regarding this matter.
The matter in question is the selling off of the Towns asset the Old Gaol, and the highly controversial secret deal made between The Vale and Cranbourne Homes.
The response from the Councillor was :- The answer is that the deal was negotiated between Cranborne Homes and Vale Council officers. The agreement was then reported to the Executive which was led by Cllr Jerry Patterson, who approved it. The details of the arrangement have not yet been fulfilled. Hence they remain confidential.
You may wish to write to the Chief Executive of the Vale, David Buckle if you want further information.
Whether any of the people on the comments page will or have contacted you or not is another matter, but could you answer some questions for us please, that we may publish to the people of Abingdon, to put this matter to rest and end all of the secrecy?
- When does the “Commercially sensitive” information regarding the deal between yourselves and Cranbourne Homes, become non sensitive anymore, (After all this is now 7 years down the line, so cannot possibly still now be commercially sensitive where competitors may have been concerned when the deal was struck?
- How much was actually agreed for the sale? On BBC Radio Oxford a while ago, Conservative Councillor Sandy Lovatt let slip that he had heard that the figure was £7 million. Is this correct?
- How much of the original amount has now been paid by Cranbourne Homes, and when, if ever is the remainder to be paid?
- We have heard that the Vale has “written off” the remainder of the debt as a long term loan, is this correct, and will Cranbourne ever be made to pay back the remainder of the money?
- Will any money paid for the Old Gaol ever come back to fund much needed projects in Abingdon, or are the Vale just asset-stripping Abingdon to fund other projects in different areas? (Abingdon BADLY needs a cinema and other entertainment facilities, but it seems that Oxford, Botley, Didcot and other localities are getting all of the funding, leaving Abingdon way behind, to the detriment of businesses and shops in the town.
- Why are Cranbourne Homes/Orchard Homes/Poolway/Orchard Development Ltd (Same company directors in case you weren’t aware?), allowed to blatantly flout planning regulations regarding cutting down of trees etc. (65 Oxford Rd, Old Gaol Willow tree).
- Why was Tilsley Park “Gifted” to Abingdon School, and what covenants have been put in place to ensure that this asset remains open and usable to Abingdon residents.
- Have any covenants been put in place to state that this asset must not be sold for building land in the future, even though 610 homes are proposed to be built around it?
If you could give answers to these questions we would appreciate it. We look forward to your response in the very near future.
Dear Abingdon First
Please accept my apologies for the delay in acknowledging your email. We are currently considering what information we are in a position to put into the public domain regarding the Old Gaol and I hope to be able to issue a statement before the end of September.
Regarding Tilsley Park we need to issue a statement letting the public know what arrangements we have agreed with Abingdon School regarding open public access. We will do this shortly. I can assure you that there is no prospect of Tilsley Pak being redeveloped for housing for the foreseeable future. It will remain as an important recreation asset for the people of Abingdon and surrounding area.
Chief Executive, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils
We have requested that David Buckle updates us when the statements are released.
We have sent a reminder to Mr Buckle….
Dear Mr Buckle,You advised us on 5th September 2014 that you would be issuing a statement regarding both the Old Gaol and Tilsley Park, hopefully, by the end of September.It is now almost the end of November, and as far as we are aware, there has been no public statement from the Vale regarding either of these matters?Could you now please update us?Thank youKind regardsAbingdonFirst.