August 21st, 2010 |
Roller Skating Rink REFUSED 12-11.
Last Thursday’s Development Committee had to consider an application to convert an empty building on the Purdey’s Industrial Estate into an indoor roller skating rink. It was a particularly difficult decision – and in the end it was REFUSED by 12 votes to 11
You can download the full report here (970kb) – it’s the third item on the agenda.
Basically, this is a shiny bright, new building that was originally intended to be a furniture showroom. Hpwever although the building was completed, it’s never been used for that. Instead a company called Thermo Fisher Scientific moved into part of the building (towards the back). They employ 48 people , in the design and manufacture of scientific equipment.
The shiny glass part of the building has remained empty – and a local outfit applied to open up a roller skater rink there. Council officers recommended approval. With councillors generally very keen to encourage more leisure facilities for young people, you might expect it to be passed.
However Thermo Fisher Scientific were very much against, being deeply concerned that the noise and vibration would affect their business (after all , some scientific instruments are very delicate). They also have special Department of Transport clearance allowing items packed there to be exempt from being opened at airports, which they felt might be in jeopardy if there were lots more people around their premises. Thermo Fisher made it clear that if the noise and vibration did affect their equipment, or affected the concentration of their engineers, their parent company might well relocate them out of Rochford and the UK.
So one of the Conservative ward councillors, Mrs Lucas-Gill, moved refusal on the grounds of the effect on the adjoining business , and unsafe pedestrian access along Sutton Road. Around about half of the councillors present sympathised on the first point, but they were very doubtful on the traffic issue. Just about every councillor agreed that the roller skating would be very useful – the question was, was this the wrong place?
Ron Oatham said that from his experience of working as that kind of engineer for over 2 decades, engineers weren’t such delicate flowers and wouldn’t be affected by the noise .
When it came to a vote the application was refused by 12 votes to 11. (which meant that 16 councillors were either absent or abstained.) Voting completely cut across party lines. All 5 Lib Dems were present – three of us (Chris Black, Chris Lumley, June Lumley) vote to refuse, two of us (Jackie Dillnutt and Ron Oatham, wanted to pass it.