Villagers angry over land sale

RESIDENTS have warned that a controversial plan to raise £500,000 by selling off a public car park could seriously affect the viability of their village.

RESIDENTS have warned that a controversial plan to raise £500,000 by selling off a public car park could seriously affect the viability of their village.

Villagers in Hasketon, near Woodbridge, have launched a campaign to stop Suffolk Coastal District Council selling land close to their village hall and giving permission for eight houses.

The land is used as a car park for the Victory Hall and the church, and last year there were more than 265 events. Visitors used the car park and the parish council says if the car park was closed the narrow rural roads would be clogged with parked cars.

Pat Hudson, Hasketon parish council chairman, warned: ''Without the parking a lot of those activities would just die and people would not come if they could not park. We are very anxious and worried. We want to make certain that everybody is aware how we feel about this and how important it is for the future of our village.''

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There are about 370 people on the village's electoral roll and the strength of feeling over the land sell-off is so strong in the small village that 80 people turned up on Saturday morning to protest.

The car park is also used as a recreation ground by young people. They have outdated play equipment on other district council-owned land by the Victory Hall to use. But the council wants that land to be used for car parking.

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Jane Good, parish council clerk, said the loss of a large part of the only open green recreational area in Hasketon would be a severe blow to the village.

''The need for the district council to make best use of its assets is appreciated. In this instance the loss of this amenity and safe play area to countless future generations of children surely outweighs the once only realisation of a relatively modest sum,'' said Mrs Good.

Suffolk Coastal's cabinet has given the go-ahead for consultants to be employed to assess the future of three pieces of council-owned land in Hasketon. They include an allotment site but the council has pledged that gardening would continue there.

Robert Whiting, the council's cabinet member for fiscal and democratic services, said recently: ''It is no secret that Suffolk Coastal is having to look at all options in its continuing battle to balance its budget and keep its council tax bills as low as possible. One possibility is the sale of this land in Hasketon and this will now be looked at in detail.

''A capital receipt of this magnitude would reduce the need to borrow significantly in order to finance other projects. The effect could be as much as £1 off council tax.

''I would anticipate that we would be able to fund new equipment for the village playground with a modern play area that would meet the latest safety standards.''

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