Alton ‘pump track’ agreed despite row over £80k bill

Tuesday 9th August 2022 6:00 am
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A mountain biking pump track will be built at Anstey Park – but the controversy surrounding the £80,000 project refuses to go away.

It stems from a public consultation held in January in which 93 per cent of respondents backed the scheme after Alton Town Council said it would be constructed at “no cost to the taxpayer”.

Town clerk Leah Coney clarified this as “no funds generated through council tax” and the town council kept that pledge by using £40,000 earned by leasing land to EE for a phone mast and securing £57,450 of Community Infrastructure Levy developers’ cash from East Hampshire District Council.

East Hampshire will also decide on a £17,500 grant from its Supporting Communities Fund this month. The extra money is earmarked for the possible addition of solar floodlighting.

At its full council meeting on July 27, Alton Town Council approved the track by five votes to one, with only six of the 13 councillors attending.

The dissenting voice belonged to Cllr Graham Hill, who said: “The consultation was fundamentally flawed. The money is not taxpayers’ money but it certainly is public money. Putting it in terms of the precept is rather misleading. I think that statement in the consultation misled the public and we got misleading results.

“It addresses a very small section of the community. It is very niche and not good use of public funds.”

Of the survey, Cllr Suzie Burns said: “Could it have been phrased better? Possibly. We had 297 responses but would it have changed those? There was very little reference to where the money was coming from.”

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