Newark and Sherwood District Council to be presented largest ever petition by Protect Newark's Green Spaces tonight
The district council will be presented its largest ever petition ahead of tonight's extraordinary full council meeting where councillors are set to vote for a last-minute deal to save green space and four trees beside Newark Library.
Campaigner Emma Oldham, of Protect Newark’s Green Spaces, will hand over the petition — which has collected more than 6,000 signatures — calling on Newark and Sherwood district councillors to save the space and trees instead of building an extension to London Road carpark.
Emma, 32, of Newark, started the petition last month after council members voted to fell the trees and bulldoze the green space.
“Within just minutes of the petition launching, we had hundreds of people flocking to the page and sending messages of support and encouragement,” said Emma. “It was extraordinary.”
She will present the petition with her daughter Arrietty, 5, who protested alongside her mum at community gatherings. They will be accompanied by other Newark children.
The tree felling was dramatically halted on November 12 by council deputy leader Keith Girling after four campaigners, dubbed the Fab Four, refused to leave the site and stayed overnight to protect the green space.
Landowner Dan Derry offered the authority a new financial deal, which is set to be passed tonight.
Emma said: “The volume of signatures speaks loud and clear that the people of Newark value and want to protect our little urban oasis.
“On behalf of all these people, and for our next generation of residents, Newark and Sherwood District Council needs to make the right decision today.”
This week, Protect Newark’s Green Spaces also launched a crowdfunder to help support future campaigns.
Jo Smith, 86, who defied police orders to leave the protest beside Newark Library which helped force the council u-turn, said: “I stayed with the trees because I could see no reason to lose them and couldn’t understand why the council would want to replace the garden with a carpark.
“As I said on the day, inspired by Martin Luther, here I stand. I can do no other.
“I very much hope that councillors will vote to preserve the library garden as it is now for the people of Newark.
“It’s such an attractive corner of the town.
“I think it is a perfect example of a ‘pocket park’, a new term I believe for small but valuable green spaces in towns.
“There is a real feeling in the town that this is what the people want.”
Announcing the 11th-hour deal to potentially save the trees, Mr Girling said: "Over the last few weeks since the full council meeting I've been getting quite a lot of representations from protesters in terms of this land here.
"I've been talking to the landowner to see if there's some kind of compromise that we could come up with as a council and the landowner.
"Less than an hour ago we've had another offer from Dan Derry, he said he realises what is going on and is all for the environment.
"I can't tell you what that is yet, it has to go through solicitors, and because the decision to do the carpark was made via full council, the offer has to go back to full council."