The two Liberal Democrat Watcombe ward councillors, Steve Darling and Roger Stringer, are planning to put right an 80 year old mistake when the King George V playing fields failed to be registered in trust as a memorial to his majesty.
Liberal Democrat group leader Steve Darling said: “Over the summer there has been interest in these fields in light of the golf course considering an expansion. I was shocked when I investigated this matter and found the they had never been registered as a group of fields in trust. I feel that it is a moral duty for the Council to put this right by starting the process to register these fields to ensure they are protected public open space for ever.”
Fellow Liberal Democrat Watcombe ward councillor Roger Stringer, who is seconding the motion, said: “I have had a number of residents in touch with me concerned about the future of these playing fields. I hope the Council will back the local community this Thursday and start the process to register these fields.”
In a separate question at the Full Council meeting, Cllr Steve Darling is also demanding that the bronze plaque that was stolen, from the gates earlier this summer is replaced.
The motion is as follows:
Notice of Motion – Council 27 October 2016
King George V Memorial Playing Fields – Fields in Trust (Mayoral)
This Council notes the following extract taken from Torquay Council minutes and extracts from the local press of the time - from 1936-7. At that time land was purchased with funds from the Department of Health amounting to £19,000. At the time that the King George V (KGV) Foundation was set up, the Council decided to set aside 2 of the purchased acres specifically as part of the memorial.
Extract from Council meeting 6 October 1936:
6. Subject to Minute no 2580 (King George Memorial Fund Playing Fields, Watcombe) being amended to read as follows:-
NATIONAL TORQUAY MEMORIAL TO HIS LATE
MAJESTY KING GEORGE V
PROVISION OF PLAYING FIELDS AT WATCOMBE
The Mayor stated that out of the sum subscribed locally to the National Memorial to His Late Majesty King George V Fund, an amount of £500 is available for a Torquay National Memorial which he desired should take the form of Playing Fields for young children as well as for organised games. His Worship, therefore, suggested the setting aside of the two fields adjoining Easterfield Lane, numbered 162 and 163 on the Ordnance Map (consisting of about 12 ½ acres and forming part of the land at Watcombe now being acquired by the Corporation) in addition to the erection of a pair of ornamental iron gates at the entrance to such playing fields as per design now submitted.
Resolved – (1) That the proposal of the Mayor be adopted and that the two fields in question be allocated and dedicated for ever as playing fields for young children and organised games, as a Torquay National Memorial to his late Majesty King George V., it being understood that the sum above referred to will be expended in purchasing and erecting the gates and in laying out the grounds as playing fields.
(2) That the design of the gates is approved.
Research has also found newspaper articles, with pictures, covering the dedication of the gates at the entrance to the KGV memorial playing fields, plus the tree planting.
The article goes on the mention that £660 was raised from residents of Torquay, £100 of which was sent to the Mansion House in London so that Torquay might contribute towards the National Memorial in London.
Extract from Torquay Times, Friday, 8 October 1937
“Col. Ward then handed over a cheque for the amount to Mr Johns. The Town Clerk in exchange, gave Col. Ward a receipt and undertaking containing the terms under which the Corporation accept the donation”.
The Mayoress then formally unveiled the tablet. The Mayor’s Chaplain followed with the dedication. The party then entered the playing fields for other formal ceremonies. Mrs Ward and Mrs E Field (Vice-Chairman of the Parks Committee) each planted a fir tree.
This Council notes that these memorial fields were never registered as such with the national body.
This motion asks the Mayor to instruct officers to investigate the logistics and process to undertake a Deed of Dedication with the Fields in Trust to protect the King George V Playing Fields from development which will achieve the same level of protection as if they had originally been registered in 1936. That upon investigation the findings be reported to Council on 8 December 2016.
Proposed by Steve Darling
Seconded by Roger Stringer