Petition hope for garden nurseries

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to safeguard the long-term future of Scarborough’s Manor Road Nursery are hoping a 21st century solution could provide the answer.

Using Government legislation from 2009 they will set up an ePetition through Scarborough Council’s website and hope to collect more than 5,000 signatures to force a full debate on the issue.

A move to formalise buying in the council’s plants is due to be discussed by the Cabinet on Tuesday, March 20, and it is feared that if the idea is approved it would pave the way for the nursery site to be sold off.

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday Eric Russell, the acting secretary of the Friends of Manor Road Nursery group, said that the law was introduced because people felt their views were not being taken into account.

He added: “This aims to reinvigorate local democracy and restore citizens’ trust in local government. As part of its aim it places a duty on local councils to respond to both paper and online petitions.”

Mr Russell said that, under the act, a petition had to collect a minimum of 500 signatures before the council would take notice of it. He added: “At that level the council has a number of options it can take in response. But if a petition collects 5,000 then it has to be debated in full council.”

The group started a paper petition last month and within six days managed to collect a total of 1,400 signatures.

The Cabinet decision was initially called into question by Cllrs Steve Bairstow and Peter Popple – the council’s Resources Scrutiny Committee decided to defer the decision and form a working group to look into the issue.

Cllr Amanda Robinson said that a lot of schools across the Scarborough area used the nursery for educational visits. She added: “It’s the added value that’s not been looked at. How much is that worth to the schools?”

Group chairman Dorothy Russell said that it was an example of the “Big Society” being promoted by the Government and added: “We’ve been kept in the dark, pretty much until now, and we need people on the working group.”

Cllr Janet Jefferson said that the working group could ask for evidence from various groups as part of its investigation. She said: “It could be friends groups, schools or anyone.”

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