Response – scroll down for Feryal Clark letter
Dear Feryal Clark
Thank you for your email. I have attached a letter with a detailed response. You are, I know, very busy so I will attempt to summarise the main points below.
The Friends of Whitewebbs Park have read the Council documents and the brochure put out by THFC which is wholly owned by ENIC, a multi billion pound company registered in the tax haven of the Bahamas.
1. The Council’s marketing update contains the barest minimal information about the competing bids.
2. Information about the THFC/ENIC bid has been provided in a carefully worded brochure which is little more than a PR release.
3. I requested a copy of the bids from Mark Bradbury who appears to have ignored the request. You will recall that stakeholders were promised sight of the bids.
4. The Leader of the Council and her senior officers have clearly ignored your pleas for proper community/ stakeholder consultation.
1. THFC/ENIC is proposing to lease the whole of Whitewebbs Park including the main points of entry and the carparks. Only the woodland and a rapidly rewilding meadow will remain with the Council.
2. THFC/ENIC will effectively control access to the park and the woodland.
3. It is far from clear as to why THFC/ENIC require this large holding. Public parks are not their area of expertise or experience.
4. While THFC/ENIC say that they will upgrade statutory paths and bridleways there are no statutory footpaths in their proposed leaseholding. They do indicate a plan to improve the bridleway along the northern edge of their holding but this, I believe, is more to do with their site security than enhancing access.
5. There is no requirement to enhance footpaths in the woodland and no indication that they plan to do so.
6. There is no clear or specific indication that public access will be allowed to the golf course. The wording is very carefully chosen.
1. The Council document refers to a “new cafe, toilets and other facilities” THFC/ENIC refer only to cafe and toilets. There is no mention of community facilities, merely “opportunities for” with no suggestion of support.
Investment in Biodiversity and restoring the landscape
1. THFC/ENIC are going to cover about 40 acres of land with plastic reinforced turf and facilities. They will shift vast quantities of earth to level the ground – maybe 100,000 cubic metres or more but they will plant a few flowerbeds.
2. They talk of restoring the rest of the course to 19th Century parkland. Apart from the rapidly disappearing bunkers and greens, that is what it is. “Parkland” is not the same as public parks. Parkland was the preserve of private landowners. Most of this parkland in the 19th Century was used for grazing. I note that one of the bids wanted to use the land for cattle grazing.
3. The golf course is improved grassland – turning it into wild flower meadows is a major task which will take 5 years or more and involve a lot of work and expense. It is not just a matter of failing to cut the grass.
4. This section has no definitions and many let out clauses.
5. There is reference to “Habitat Banks”. These sound good and worthy but my research suggests that they are a commercial device by which Councils and Developers offset environmental loss in one area with planting elsewhere in the country.
Open space and privacy
1. There is no guarantee that people will have access to the golf course.
2. THFC/ENIC is very protective of its privacy – see the security precautions at the current training ground. Security guards, high fences and 3 metre high earth barriers. We can expect similar measures in Whitewebbs.
3. There is a legitimate question to ask about why THFC/ENIC wants control over the whole park (except the woodlands). Security, privacy, future expansion?
1. The private estate “Parkland” was bought for the people of Enfield nearly 100 years ago. At the time golf was very popular. The park is now available for other recreational use which will benefit our mental and physical health. The Council are custodians of the park not wheeler dealer property tycoons..
2. There is no provision for “rejuvenation” of the park.
3. “A more inclusive range of activities”. We have lost 85,000 hours of physical activity enjoyed by men and women of all ages and incomes (golf). This is being replaced by a facility for a very narrow section of the population serving the commercial interests of a multi billion dollar corporation based in a tax haven. The THFC/ENIC scheme is not born of altruism, it is a straight commercial investment.
4. The Community might get a slightly better cafe, maybe some signposts and loss of access to land they own. (We did walk the golf course for many years – round the edges and during quieter periods).
Employment and Training
1. There might be a few jobs but not many. Currently Tottenham is advertising on the Grounds Management Association website for people with level 2 turf management qualifications for casual / as required jobs.
2. Training and a Turf Academy – Capel Manor runs sports turf management schemes for apprentices. Tottenham is associated with this already.
In summary this is a scheme tailor made for the commercial requirements and convenience of a multi billion dollar corporation. Expect the initial scheme to be expanded – training grounds for American football, hotel facilities, housing for staff, acres of tarmac for cars.
The community will lose a beautiful park, the Council by its own figures has saved £200,000 a year by closing the golf course. There are no guarantees of access, no real provision for enhanced facilities and the climate emergency will be met by building 40 acres of plastic reinforced monocultural football pitches. (Look up hybrid pitches on YouTube) “There can be around 20 million of individual polyethylene fibres in a standard football pitch.” Daily Telegraph report.
I cannot agree with your interpretation of the Council and THFC/ENIC documents and urge that you look at them again before it is too late. Were the Council proud of what they are doing I am sure that they would have engaged in full consultation. Despite your urgings , this they have failed to do.
The 25 year lease is irrelevant – with the money that THFC/ENIC is spending this land will be lost forever.
Friends of Whitewebbs Park
Feryal Clark’s letter. This, in various forms, has been sent to others
On Mon, 5 Jul 2021 at 12:37, Feryal Clark MP <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Sean Wilkinson
I hope this finds you well.
I am writing to you on the back of Enfield Council’s press release on the future of Whitewebbs: https://new.enfield.gov.uk/news-and-events/enfield-council-considering-proposals-for-investme/ which I hope you have had the opportunity to read.
Enfield Council has announced that it is considering the proposals submitted by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC) as the highest scoring bidder.
As you are aware, I called on Enfield Council to halt any decision on the future of Whitewebbs until the local stakeholders have had an opportunity to review the bidders, and I am pleased to see that my suggestion has been followed.
Whilst Enfield Council has shared details of all the bids and specifically that which has been scored highest, I have been assured that no decision will be made on the future of Whitewebbs before mid-July. This will give the public time to ask questions and share their views on the proposals.
Due to the Council’s Property Procedure Rules, the Council can only decide whether to proceed with the highest scoring bid or not to proceed with any of the bids. Therefore, I would suggest that you view the proposals put forward by the top bidder on their website here: https://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/media/39082/whitewebbs.pdf and share your views or raise any questions you may have via the contact details you can find on the last page of the PDF.
As you will also know, I made it very clear to Enfield Council and to my constituents that I personally have concerns regarding public access, the woodlands and the protection and enhancement of biodiversity of this existing green space.
I am, therefore, very pleased to hear that the restoration of parklands and wild meadows, the reinstatement of 19th century parkland with a new café, toilets and other facilities, and the investment in improving biodiversity and improving paths for walking, cycling and horse riding are at the forefront of the proposals being put forward by Enfield Council for Whitewebbs.
These proposals, which would protect this existing green space at Whitewebbs that is valuable to many of us in Enfield, have alleviated my concerns and reassured me that the Council are keen to enhance public access, protect the woodlands, and enhance the biodiversity at Whitewebbs.
I also welcome proposals from Enfield Council to invest an extra £100,000 a year into grassroot sport for young people across the borough and I believe this could create many opportunities for our young people in Enfield.
As the proposals put forward by THFC are subject to planning permission, I am looking forward to seeing THFC engage with the local community during the planning process, should Enfield proceed with the proposals, and I would want you to engage in the consultation process to ensure your thoughts, concerns, and comments are heard.
Member of Parliament for Enfield North
House of Commons
Tel: 0207 219 6607