Judicial Review of Rumney Rec Decision

Don Taylor, Chair of RREEL at Rumney Rec

RREEL Action Group yesterday served a formal letter on Cardiff Council as the first step in a possible judicial review challenge to the Council’s refusal to register Rumney Recreation ground as a Village Green. Lawyers acting for the community action group submitted a detailed letter setting out why the Councils’ failure to protect the green open space of Rumney Rec may be unlawful. The Council’s Public Protection Committee voted on 13 January 2011 not to register the Rec as a village green. The committee was split with all Lib Dem Councillors voting against registration. Lib Dem chair Cllr Ed Bridges used his casting vote to deny registration.

Don Taylor Chair of RREEL commented:

“We committed to fighting to save the Rec for current and future generations. We believe we have a very reasonable case that the decision was wrong. Cllr Derrick Morgan warned the Public Protection committee that we were contemplating this action. Tory, Labour and Plaid councillors on the committee all believed the Council should think again. Sadly Lib Dem members of that committee would not listen.”

We still believe this could be resolved without spending more Council tax payers’ money. However the ball is in the Council’s court. We had no choice but to take this step to protect the community’s interest.”

The lawyer assisting RREEL Vaughan Gething confirmed:

“The letter delivered today is the first formal stage before issuing any court proceedings. There are serious concerns about the advice the Council are relying upon. The Council now have 14 days to respond. “

“Rumney Rec: No-one should think the fight it over”

Vaughan Gething, Labour candidate for Cardiff South & Penarth with Lorraine Barrett AM

If you aren’t angry that Cardiff Lib Dems decided not to register Rumney Rec as a village green then you are in a small minority. The village green application included a long history of facts and difficult legal questions to answer. The uninterested observer may think the anger at the Council committee is simply disappointment after all a public inquiry with a QC was held to help resolve these questions.”

That isn’t the full picture. As Cllr Derrick Morgan rightly said Rumney Rec is an issue that arouses passionate feeling and the overwhelming support of local people. Derrick Morgan set out a number of problem areas in the advice that did not make sense and required further explanation. However the Public Protection Committee decision was scarred by Lib Dem intransigence and the refusal to listen to local people. Hardly surprising as only the Lib Dem led Council objected to the village green application.

Don Taylor from RREEL wanted to address to committee as did I. I told the chair of the committee that I didn’t want to filibuster, I wanted to ask questions and address elected representatives on an issue of huge importance of people in East Cardiff. We could have been allowed to speak, even for a brief period of time. However the Lib Dem Chair of the Committee decided that the public should not be allowed to address their elected representatives for any period of time.

The report of Mr Blohm itself contains a number of factual inconsistencies. For example he found that Squire Williams regulated use of the land that is now the Rec. No evidence was presented that this was the case. In fact evidence that Squire Williams did not regulate use was given at the inquiry by the Hobbs Sisters, Joyce Pitman, Ray Connolly and Jeffrey Bonsey. Despite people who were there at the time telling him what happened Mr Blohm reached the opposite conclusion.

The report also had puzzling legal findings that none of the Lib Dem members of the committee were interested in asking questions about. For example Mr Blohm’s conclusions on implied licence appear to directly contradict advice that he gave on his own chambers website on 8 March 2010.

All this and more was highlighted to the Committee. All of it was ignored by the Lib Dem members including East Cardiff Trowbridge Cllr Geraldine Grant who decided that the Rec should not be protected. I know from being a Cllr that it isn’t good enough to follow blindly every piece of advice without asking questions. It isn’t just reasonable for Cllrs to ask questions and demand answers when they don’t understand the advice they are being given or when the advice does not make sense. It is the duty of Cllrs to ask questions when that happens. If they aren’t prepared to do that why bother standing for election?”

When I was a Cllr we had meetings where external lawyers were present so Cllrs could ask questions to ensure they understood the advice they were being given. Yesterday the Committee were told that they wouldn’t get any more answers regardless of the questions they asked.

Labour Cllrs, Tory Cllrs and even a Plaid Cllr wanted to have their questions answered. However the determination to see off the Rec came from Lib Dem Cllrs who looked and talked like they were acting as a party block. Its no wonder watching Llanrumney Cllrs Heather Joyce and Jackie Parry were furious.

No-one should think the fight is over. A legal challenge and judicial review is difficult and expensive. Even if that does not go forward there is a still a planning process to contend with and a Council election in 2012. Somehow I don’t think we’ll see much of Rodney Berman and Neil McEvoy in East Cardiff when the 2012 Council election comes around.

The community fight to save the Rec has shown dignity, passion and rare ability to present a convincing case. The campaign will continue and I will continue to be in people’s corner.

Vaughan GethingLabour and Co-operative Party  Welsh Assembly Candidate for Cardiff South & Penarth

Vaughan Gething’s website – click here

Vaughan Gething on twitter – click here

Read Guardian Cardiff coverage – click here

 

Rumney Rec Is Not A Village Green says QC

In another controversial twist to the Rumney Rec saga the report by Leslie Blohm QC following September’s Public Enquiry has been made public.
Click here to read the report in full – 2010

Llanrumney's Labour Councillors continue to fight to save the Rec

The QC, Queen’s Counsel, who was paid over £10 thousand pounds to direct the Public Enquiry determined that Rumney Rec has failed to meet the criteria required for it to fulfill village green status. The controversy is likely to be fuelled by the fact that Mr. Blohm devotes a MERE 12 lines to the residents’ central argument that Section 15(7) of the Commons Act 2006 allows the Rec to be designated as a village green.
Alun Michael MP last night stated that “The battle to save Rumney Rec goes on.”

Rumney Rec Village Green Public Inquiry

Llanrumney library saw packed sessions

The Public Inquiry sat at Llanrumney library on 21, 22 and 23 September 2010. Mr. Leslie Blohm QC presided and will submit a report to Cardiff Council within 4 to 6 weeks.

Guardian Cardiff – FAQ about Rumney Rec read here

DAY ONE

Guardian Cardiff – reports read here & here

South Wales Echo – report read here

DAY TWO

Guardian Cardiff – report read here

South Wales Echo – report read here

DAY THREE

Guardian Cardiff – report read here

South Wales Echo – report read here

INQUIRY AFTERMATH

Guardian Cardiff – report read here

Former Bluebird Christian Roberts backs the campaign to save Rumney Recreation Ground

Former Bluebirds, Bristol City and Swindon football star Christian Roberts has backed the community campaign to register Rumney Recreation ground as a Village Green. Local Llanrumney boy Christian agreed to back the campaign after being contacted by Labour Assembly candidate Vaughan Gething. RREEL action group togther with local MP Alun Michael have made an application to register the land at Rumney Rec as a village green. A public inquiry takes place at Llanrumney Library on 21 September. Cardiff Council is the sole objector to the application.

Vaughan Gething and Christian Roberts on Rumney Rec

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Rumney Rec Public Meeting – 14th September – British Legion Club, Llanrumney

As the Rumney Rec Village Green Public Inquiry 21, 22, 23 September draws near the Rumney Recreational and Eastern Leisure Centre Action Group (RREEL) has announced that they will host a public meeting to update local residents.

The RREEL Public Meeting will take place on Tuesday 14th September 2010 at 7.30pm at the British Legion in Llanrumney.

The campaign group looking to preserve the Rumney Recreation Ground from development has also announced that following the end of the Public Inquiry in Llanrumney they will host a fundraising night in Rumney.

The RREEL Fundraiser ‘A Fun Night at the Races’ will be held on Saturday 25th September at the Rumney Conservative Club, Rumney Hill, Rumney. (Enjoy a fun night of Horse Racing – Funds raised go towards the campaign to Save Rumney Rec).

Lorraine Barrett AM & Alun Michael MP deep in conversation on Rumney Rec.

Rumney Rec Controversy In The News

Guardian Cardiff – Alun Michael MP writes a guest post – read it here. Alun Michael makes a public appearance on Rumney Rec – read it here.

Your Cardiff – Lorraine Barrett AM writes a guest post – read it here.

WalesOnline – report on the battle between ‘David v. Golaith’ – read it here.

Face to Face – Don Taylor

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

Guardian Cardiff homepage can be found here

Guardian Cardiff is on Twitter here

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.

Don Taylor works on the latest campaign newsletter at his home. Photo: KP Jones

“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.”

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