December 12, 2011 4.48 pm This story is over 150 months old

Why the people of Lincoln must maintain a stake in The Lawn

Comment: More than 2,000 people sign petition against selling The Lawn, as City Council prepares marketing process in the new year.

— Emile van der Zee is a Lincoln campaigner known for this work to overturn plans to bring back horse racing on the West Common. He has joined the Hands Off Our Lawn campaign, which aims to keep the complex publicly accessible. Below, he addresses the Leader of the City of Lincoln Council in an open letter. The Lincolnite understands the marketing process for the The Lawn’s sale will begin in the new year.

Dear Mr Metcalfe,

More than 2,000 people have now signed a petition asking for a proper consultation process regarding the sale of The Lawn. I’m asking you as the Leader of the City Council to implement such a process before any parts of The Lawn are sold off.

The City Council did not consult properly the people in Lincoln about the sale of The Lawn complex. A very limited consultation opportunity was available for the sale of the open space referred to as “the south lawn” (0.8 hectares). This consultation was not widespread enough.

Not surprisingly, the latter consultation opportunity was missed by stakeholders. No stakeholders were approached directly for consultation by the council. The process followed by the current council to dispose of The Lawn is an insult to the people in Lincoln, and has led to widespread protests.

The Lawn is unique. People from Lincoln and visitors to our city use The Lawn as a green open space for recreation; children play here, families have picnics here, older people enjoy their walks here. The Joseph Banks Conservatory and The Lawn complex form an important part of the city’s heritage.

People visit and enjoy these amenities, events are organised here (one only has to visit the weddings and events website of The Lawn in order to see how much this facility is used for community events), and local shops attract visitors to this area.

Why does the council not talk to stakeholders before The Lawn is sold off? Why isn’t the potential which The Lawn has to offer for the people in Lincoln, tourism for the city, and opportunities for local businesses explored together with the stakeholders?

The City Council in Lincoln is supposed to represent the people in Lincoln. However, a growing number of what are currently more than 2,000 people in Lincoln do not feel that their voices are represented by the council. I call upon the council to listen to these voices, and not to ignore them. Please have a look at only a small part of the signatures and the comments we received via our campaign website, Hands Off Our Lawn. The comments show how strongly people feel about this issue.

All we are asking for is that the City Council identifies potential interest groups, listens to their ideas, and explores together with interested parties how The Lawn and its surrounding grounds be used to the advantage of everyone in Lincoln.

The Lawn is more than a plot of land and a few buildings with a price on their head for a few developers; to many people in Lincoln it represents an important part of Lincoln’s heritage, a vital recreational space, and a part of people’s own past and future life in this City.

I’m looking forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Emile van der Zee

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