A statement from Cllr Clive Jones, Leader of Earely Town Council
We share residents’ considerable frustration that the anticipated transfer of the former Sibley Hall site and Redhatch Copse has not been completed. The purpose of this letter is to update residents and to correct some misrepresentations that have been made by a Conservative Councillor.
In 2015 Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) made the very unusual decision that Earley Town Council (ETC) would look after the grounds and woods around this development. This hadn't happened before.
It has been claimed that the transfer was all agreed before the Conservatives lost control of ETC in May 2019. This is a misrepresentation of the facts. Nothing had been agreed before May 2019. Very little had been done either by WBC or ETC.
A Conservative Borough Councillor met with the developers, Persimmon, the ETC Town Clerk and the Environment Director of WBC on 9th July 2019. No councillors from ETC were invited to that meeting. A six-figure payment was discussed with Persimmon, to enable ETC to take on the responsibilities of managing these assets.
A week later, on the 16th July, at meeting with Persimmon, ETC Councillors, including the new Leader of the Council Cllr Clive Jones, Town Clerk and the Environment Director of WBC, the six-figure sum discussed the previous week was considerably increased, and important additional issues were raised.
Agreement was reached in the following few months and the WBC solicitors were to complete the legal work. However, the pandemic hindered the process and Persimmon agreed that the transfer could be delayed.
In the summer of 2021, ETC gave up waiting for WBC legal department to start work on the transfer and decided to instruct its own solicitors. This is now proceeding and we are doing all that we can to ensure that this will be concluded as soon as practicable, in a manner that protects the interests of ETC and our residents.
We believe that the misrepresentation of the situation has recently been repeated, so we felt it was time the full facts were in the public domain. There was NO agreement on the transfer whilst the Conservatives were in control of ETC. An agreement wasn't even close. We look forward to an agreement being reached that will then enable ETC to manage the green spaces in the estate and Redhatch Copse in an exemplary manner.