New Conservator of Therfield Heath and Greens elected at packed village meeting

PUBLISHED: 16:28 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:28 28 February 2018

Therfield Heath

Therfield Heath

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A new Conservator of Therfield Heath and Greens has been elected after the vote had to be moved due to a bigger venue to accommodate more people.

Royston Hockey Club president Colin Smith was elected to the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens last week. Picture: Courtesy of Colin Smith Royston Hockey Club president Colin Smith was elected to the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens last week. Picture: Courtesy of Colin Smith

Royston Hockey Club president Colin Smith stood against Clive Hall – who led the objectors panel at the heath land swap inquiry last month – and scored 106 votes to Mr Hall’s 56.

The turnout for last Thursday’s meeting was one of the highest in recent history, and saw attendees packed into Therfield’s parish church after original location Fordham Memorial Hall was deemed too small.

Residents of the Special Drainage District of Royston were eligible to vote in the election, which was held during the group’s AGM.

The SDD is the boundary of the old urban district of Royston as it was in 1888, when the act establishing the heath and Conservators was passed by Parliament.

Mr Smith told the Crow: “I’m excited – it’s not totally sure what my function will be yet, but I’ve lived here since 1965 so I’ve been running round the heath in varies guises most of my life and I’m now a tender 62 years old.

“I’m passionate about the ecological side of it, but believe there is a balance between sport, recreation and wildlife.

“It’s about having a balanced view for the residents of Royston – as the town expands we need to communicate more to residents about what’s going on and that’s certainly something I can offer them.

“If I can talk to groups, or through social media or in the Crow, people will know what’s going on and when – and that’s progress. And when we get investment, it will start to drive that.”

The election of the hockey club president has prompted concerns from those who were against selling off heath land for housing – which Conservators say will enable funds to be reinvested into sporting facilities, a warden and running costs – as to whether this was right for the North Herts landmark.

Karen Pearson, who supported Mr Hall and was also on the panel of objectors at the public inquiry, said: “The division between sport and the main users of the heath will continue to grow under the present regime, with ever more emphasis being placed on elite sports facilities.

“The Conservators are not only facilitating sport, but I understand now want to fund an exclusive pitch which could only be available to a minority of fee-paying sport players.

“There are many more appropriate sites for this type of facility, but not on common land. Is it good use of charity money?

“I doubt whether this is the last that will be heard on the subject as there are still so many questions to be answered.”

Rod Kennedy, who regularly attends the Conservators’ meetings, said: “Never in the remembered history of these meetings have so many attended – maybe there needs a bit of controversy every year to get people to take an interest.”

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