CAMPAIGNERS who fought against the creation of a new multi-lane road system through a popular park have been ‘listened to’ throughout the process, a senior councillor claimed, sparking fresh fury this week.
Penny Pie Park, near junction 37 of the M1, was closed to the public before Christmas as work stepped up on the one-way road’s creation.
Campaigners climbed trees and prevented vehicles from entering the site compound in a dispute which saw almost 3,000 people sign a petition against the road’s creation in a row over the lack of green space in the area and the park’s established trees’ removal.
The council said it would be committing an extra £100,000 towards planting more trees around the soon-to-be-built gyratory system following a public consultation.
Barnsley Council’s cabinet member for place, Coun Chris Lamb, said the local authority listened to the public - sparking fresh outrage from campaigners who say their efforts have been ‘completely ignored’.
“I think it’s safe to say that during the consultation period, concerns were raised by members of the public in relation to the number of trees in the park,” Coun Lamb said.
“Of the 239 trees that were in the park, 72 have had to be removed. This is made up of the original 66 trees that were identified but also an additional six which were initially identified for relocation but on closer inspection, on the day, proved not viable.
“Initially 15 trees were identified as suitable to be uplifted and replanted within the park, prior to any construction works being carried out. Nine of those were successfully relocated.
“The trees that had no be removed that were not viable for relocation were due to several reasons, including issues with root systems, and growth issues.
“We are committed to planting for trees than we have removed, and there being a minimum of 243 trees in Penny Pie Park after completion of the works.
“This will be a minimum gain of four trees.”
The decision to put a new road through the park, at the Dodworth Road crossroads between the town centre and junction 37 of the M1, remains highly controversial.
Barnsley Council argued there was no other viable option, having considered around three dozen alternatives, and pressed ahead with the plan, eventually winning the ruling cabinet’s backing and then securing planning permission.
A spokesperson from Save Penny Pie Park added: “The fact the council is saying they’ve listened to us is an affront to campaigners who have fought hard against the park’s destruction.
“We’ve been completely ignored from the start.
“They’ve basically ignored more than 2,700 petitioners, all of whom wanted this damaging scheme to be halted.
“For Coun Lamb to be as bold as he was and say this in a full council meeting further shows our local authority simply does not listen to its residents, if it doesn’t suit its own agenda.”
Coun Hannah Kitching, who backed campaigners, said: “Communities do not feel like they’re being heard - the council does not listen to its public and views are dismissed.
“We’ve seen this most recently with Penny Pie Park, which the council still wish to carve up to create a road that’s simply not needed, despite 2,700 residents signing a petition against it.”