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Axe looms over Bassetsbury Lane Allotments
THE end appears nigh for the contaminated Bassetsbury Lane Allotments after council chiefs refused to fund one final soil test.
The High Wycombe Town Committee, which has no executive powers, agreed in June to take one last stab at saving the site by commissioning a Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment (DQRA).
The committee elected to ask Wycombe District Council, as landlord, to fund the £20,000 survey instead of taking it out of its own budget.
But Cabinet last night threw out the request, with council leader Cllr Alex Collingwood suggesting he wanted to close down the site and move on – with a site in Castlefield earmarked as a potential replacement.
Cllr Collingwood said: "We already know it's contaminated, a number of surveys have told us that, so this final survey will only reveal how much.
“It appears the Town Committee isn’t willing to put their money where their mouth is and pay for this themselves, so why should the rest of the district fund it?"
He added Cllr Trevor Snaith’s suggestion that part of the site could be reopened would not work as insurance firms have told WDC the whole site must be clear before they would provide cover.
Cllr Collingwood added: “Remediation could cost up to £795,000, that’s a lot of money for ten allotment holders. I would rather [save the money and use it to] look at Castlefield, that’s a bigger plot.”
The same four options open to the town committee in June were put before Cabinet members last night and they elected for number four, permanent site closure.
It is now unclear whether town committee members are still able to fund the DQRA or if the popular site - which was closed indefinitely in February 2009 - is now doomed for closure.
The chairman of the town committee, Cllr Tony Green, told the Free Press this morning that he is now “not sure” what the future holds for the allotments.
He said: “I’m sure the matter will be discussed again by the town committee, as we wanted to have this last soil survey – but ultimately it will be Cabinet’s decision.
“I am very keen on allotments and to save them from closure where we can but we have to take into account what the lawyers, the insurance companies and everyone else is telling us, but we will keep going.”
Cllr Snaith tweeted today: "Poor show from The Tory Leader and Cabinet who failed to act on the wishes of the High Wycombe Town Committee."
The BFP broke this news as it happened last night during a live blog from the council meeting. Click here to read it.