THE leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council has hit back at claims the authority is not listening to residents about the future of Uttoxeter Leisure Centre.
Councillor Richard Grosvenor was responding to comments made to the Advertiser last week by one of the organisers behind a petition to keep the centre at its existing Oldfield’s Road location or on adjacent land.
Jerry Latham, vice-chairman of the Uttoxeter Community Action Group, said, after being told that the 2,200-signature strong petition would not be submitted to the council’s cabinet for another 12 months, that it made a mockery of Councillor Grosvenor’s comments that the views of residents will be considered.
However, Councillor Grosvenor has told the Advertiser that the lengthy period of time before a decision is due to be made showed it was thoroughly consulting townsfolk.
He said: “A procurement process was always going to take some time and he (Mr Latham) should have been aware of this.
“He has communicated to my officers that he was happy with the decision to present at the cabinet and he ‘looks forward to talking next year’. So I am a bit perplexed at his apparent disappointment now.
“In terms of the length of time to be taken making a mockery of my comments, I would have thought that actually it shows we are taking the views of residents into account and that a conclusion or decision has not yet been made.
“If we had taken a decision already or had planned to take one soon, then he could, and indeed would no doubt, say that we weren’t listening.
“As it happens he has 12 months to add more signatures — I would have thought he’d be happy with that? “It gives him the opportunity to try and get the 4,000 signatures he told me would not be a problem.” Councillor Grosvenor also questioned the validity of the petition co-organised by the Uttoxeter Community Action Group and the Uttoxeter and District 50 Plus Forum in its current form.
He said: “Early reading of the signatures shows that some folk have signed multiple times so he (Mr Latham) needs to be sure the additional signatures he gets have not previously signed.
“The fact that we have 12 months, and have organised to receive his petition, proves that we are listening before a decision is made.
“If Mr Latham had felt we are not taking resident views into account then why is he carrying on forwarding petition signatures to us? I feel he is just trying to score cheap political points with his comment in the press.”