Liberal Democrats have said they won the first stage of their campaign to protect Conyngham Hall grounds, after their petition had over 1,800 signatures.
The Leader of the Council, Richard Cooper, has responded by saying that there is no way that the Liberal Democrat petition can have saved Conyngham Hall because they never handed it in.
Harrogate Council’s cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Support has approved the existing location, opposite King Janes’s school as the preferred option for Knaresborough’s new leisure centre. The Council used external property consultants to make the decision.
The Liberal Democrats established a ‘Hands Off Conyngham Hall Grounds’ campaign group and delivered petition leaflets across the town.
Campaign’s coordinator, Matt Walker, said:
I’m very pleased with this result, it is very much a step in the right direction. We would particularly welcome the council ruling out the possibility of building at Conyngham Hall full stop.
It’s is important that the Council doesn’t give with one hand, while taking our precious green space with the other.
Conyngham Hall grounds is one of the things that makes our town the very best to live in. The huge support our campaign saw is a testament to Knaresborough residents’ strong-held belief that green space is not only worth protecting, but investing in.
There is no way that the Liberal Democrat petition can have saved Conyngham Hall because they never handed it in. Every person who signed it thought they were supporting a local campaign but all that happened was that their contact details were taken electronically.
This isn’t the first time this has happened – there is a pattern to the behaviour. There was the ‘Hands off Harrogate’ petition against devolution – the debate came and went on the council and they never handed the petition in.
There was a petition for Harrogate Council and North Yorkshire County Council to extend free school meals to the holidays. The decision was made by the government to do so but the petition was never handed in.
There are other examples.
This raises many questions about why local Liberal Democrats are collecting people’s contact details. Many would view it as data harvesting. That why I think it is important that the Information Commissioner looks at the data collection activities of the local Liberal Democrats and is why I have referred the matter to them.
I am all in favour of petitions but if you never hand them in to the decision-makers one has to ask why you are doing them; what are your motives? Whatever the reason, people are signing them in good faith and they are being let down.