Cardiff East is proud to begin today a series of Face to Face interviews. Today we chat with Don Taylor the Chairman of RREEL (Rumney Recreation and Eastern Leisure Centre) Action Group.
This interview was carried by the Guardian Cardiff
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Don Taylor is on the phone. The chairman of Rumney Recreation and Eastern Leisure Centre Action Group (RREEL) is constantly being called while we sit at his dining room table, surrounded by copies of the latest campaign newsletter. This is typical, I am told, for the retired salesman who now devotes his time to leading the fight to save the park he loves – the Rumney Recreation Ground. Even Taylor is amazed that the campaign he has led is now almost three years old.
“It came to everyone’s notice in the papers that the Liberal-Democrat council wanted to build the new school, for this area, on the park. I was infuriated. In August 2007 I started the RREEL Action Group and it has just grown from there. We keep adding new supporters all the time.”
“People were so incensed. We reached 8,000 signatures in just four weeks but the way this council is they tried to ignore it.”
He is not a man easily deterred and after the council continued to press ahead with their plans he, with the help of his committee, held a local community poll in February 2009 in Llanrumney and Rumney. The result was a near 94% no vote on a turnout higher than the last European elections within the same constituency with a poll that was only open for five hours and allowed for no postal votes.
To the fury of Taylor and campaigners it was revealed, through a freedom of information disclosure, that Cardiff Council had not bid for any money from the Welsh Assembly Government for the new school. Lack of finance was cited as one reason why the parkland had to be built on.
“I was absolutely amazed. Mind you they did bid for a lot of money for Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru wards. The new East Cardiff School will be the biggest development in secondary education in Cardiff yet they failed to make any bids?”
Taylor is adamant that the communities of east Cardiff are right to defend their community’s interest.
“This is just political it is not the best for the community to build on the park when there are three other school sites to choose from.”
An application for village green status has met with one single objector – Cardiff Council.
Taylor continues to be up for the fight ahead.
“When you get the council acting as proposer, developer, and planning authority it smacks of a conflict of interest. So we need someone independent to adjudicate. We will get our objection to the Welsh Assembly Government and they will decide who is right and who is wrong.”
As he looks out over the Rumney Recreation Ground, Taylor is convinced that it is not the best use of council land to turn most of the parkland into a secondary school site.
“It’s not for us, it’s for the generations to come that we fight. We are gaining support all the time. We are well on our way to raising £20,000 towards our legal fund. The strength of feeling amongst the local community is stronger than ever.”