Residents give evidence at inquiry

HEALTH bosses became locked in a 30-year “state of contention” with local residents over a treasured town centre park, a public inquiry has heard.

Dave Gooderham

HEALTH bosses became locked in a 30-year “state of contention” with local residents over a treasured town centre park, a public inquiry has heard.

On the second day of the hearing to determine the future of People's Park in Sudbury, residents in the town continued giving evidence revealing how they have used the land.

Its owners, West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust, want to sell the beauty spot, officially known as Harps Close Meadow and once a site for a proposed new hospital, for housing to help pay off its historic debts.


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But determined residents, who have fought for the area to remain as a park for decades, told the inquiry that the land had been regularly used by people of all ages.

Elizabeth Cole, of Gaol Lane, Sudbury, said: “I have used the land ever since the 1950s and I have never been challenged for doing so.

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“There were gaps in the edges of the park and that gave easy access to the land. I remember a notice for a future hospital but it didn't prevent my continued use of the land. I considered it my absolute right to use People's Park until a hospital was built.”

Edwin Simpson, the Suffolk County Council-appointed barrister leading the inquiry, had earlier said the main issue was to determine how People's Park had been used over the last 20 years.

Vivian Chapman QC, on behalf of the health trust, said it was the authority's evidence that a combination of barriers was fitted around the land from the 1990s but fencing was quite regularly pulled down and access gained.

The inquiry continues.

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