CALLS for the Co-Op to engage with the community over the under-threat Oakfield Park have been echoed by MP Mark Pawsey and the leader of the borough council’s Labour Group.
The Bilton Road park, owned by Co-Op Funeral Services, has been leased to Rugby Borough Council for some 30 years, but the company wants to build 62 homes there.
Mr Pawsey has written to the company, calling on them to meet with him and the leader of Rugby Borough Council.
And the council’s Labour leader Coun Claire Edwards, who will stand for parliament in next year’s election, has also expressed her concerns.
Mr Pawsey said: “It is disappointing that the Co-Op is yet to respond to requests to meet with Rugby Borough Council.
“Oakfield needs to be protected and I will do all I can to ensure that it is.”
Coun Edwards wrote to the company, asking them to listen to local concerns.
She said: “We do need good quality affordable housing in Rugby, but not at any price and not anywhere that is dictated by developers wanting a fast profit.
“We have a responsibility to protect green open spaces and I will be pressing for that at every opportunity.”
The Save Oakfield campaign group echoed the call for dialogue, and invited representatives to a second residents’ meeting.
A spokesman said: “The destruction of a park which has operated since 1955 as a sports, leisure and recreation facility, in one of the most deprived parts of Rugby, is totally out of keeping with the ethos and objectives of the Co-operative movement.”
He added the alternative site proposed by the Co-Op, on Merttens Drive, has provoked further anger because it was protected solely for the use of children.
He said: “That the Co-op should consider buying up a facility already dedicated for the use of school children is quite unbelievable and demonstrates the degree of cynicism in their approach.”
Previous reports alternative facilities would be in Marton, over eight miles away, stemmed from Coun Steven Birkett mishearing ‘Merttens Drive’ during a conversation with a Co-Op representative.
The Co-Op has not yet responded to any of the Observer’s requests for comment or clarification, nor to the council’s offer to buy the land.
The residents’ meeting will take place at 7pm on Monday (November 10) at the Indian Centre on Edward Street. Council leader Coun Michael Stokes will be in attendance.
The campaign group now has new Facebook and Twitter pages – search the respective websites for ‘Save Oakfield’.
The group’s online petition – at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/SaveOakfield – has attracted over 1,430 signatures, in addition to nearly 300 people having signed the paper version.