Meadow campaigners celebrate a new dawn

Oxford Mail: Campaigners celebrating at Warneford Meadow today Campaigners celebrating at Warneford Meadow today

CAMPAIGNERS who battled to save Oxford’s Warneford Meadow from development say they now hope to work with the NHS to enhance the area.

Yesterday, a High Court judge upheld Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to register the 18-acre meadow – which sits behind Warneford Hospital between Headington and East Oxford – as a Town Green.

Campaigners said they were “gobsmacked” when Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which wanted to sell the meadow for development, said it was abandoning its plans after Judge David Waksman’s ruling.

The land was designated as a Town Green under the Commons Registration Act following a public inquiry.

Sietske Boeles, of Southfield Road, East Oxford, spokesman for the Friends of Warneford Meadow, said: “The news that the NHS has conceded and will not pursue any further appeals is wonderful.

“We’re gobsmacked and delighted by this decision which we have campaigned for over the past four years.

“The Friends are now looking forward to working with the NHS and landowners, and with the local authorities and residents’ associations, to conserve and enhance the meadow and orchard.

“This will mean the meadow can be enjoyed by residents and patients for generations to come.”

She said the battle to preserve the meadow dated back to 1988 when local residents worked with the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Ramblers Association to have the footpaths on the meadow and other hospital land registered as Rights of Way.

She added: “This was a protracted process involving a public inquiry and was finally successful in 2002.

“We’re delighted that the latest battle has now come to an end.”

Trust spokesman Emma Heath said: “We accept the outcome and will not be proceeding to further appeal.

“We are, of course, extremely disappointed at the effect this will have on our plans to make improvements across our estates to benefit our patients.

“Many of our wards need major improvements to bring them up to the modern standard which our patients deserve.

“The Department of Health and the NHS in Oxfordshire had agreed to allocate all proceeds from the sale of the meadow to upgrading Warneford Hospital and we had planned to use proceeds from the sale of surplus land to replace these out-of-date facilities.

“We remain committed to improving facilities for our patients at the Warneford Hospital, and accept that this will now take longer than we hoped.”

Dr Helena Whall, of the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the meadow was one of the “hidden secrets” of Oxford.

She said: “We’re delighted the inspector’s report has been upheld. We hope this ruling secures the protection of this unique and valuable green space for generations to come.”

affrench@oxfordmail.co.uk

Comments (5)

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3:20pm Wed 24 Mar 10

pater mcvey says...

well done to all of you NIMBYS pictured above. But you have got some nerve asking for N.H.S money to help you do whatever it is that you get up to on this land. If you want something done put your grubby little hands in your own pockets and pay for it yourself, instead of expecting myself and all other taxpayers to pay for it. This may be a victory for your selfishness, but it is a loss for anybody wanting treatment who would benefit from the improvements, again well done.
well done to all of you NIMBYS pictured above. But you have got some nerve asking for N.H.S money to help you do whatever it is that you get up to on this land. If you want something done put your grubby little hands in your own pockets and pay for it yourself, instead of expecting myself and all other taxpayers to pay for it. This may be a victory for your selfishness, but it is a loss for anybody wanting treatment who would benefit from the improvements, again well done. pater mcvey

4:46pm Wed 24 Mar 10

Isisbridge says...

pater mcvey wrote:
well done to all of you NIMBYS pictured above. But you have got some nerve asking for N.H.S money to help you do whatever it is that you get up to on this land. If you want something done put your grubby little hands in your own pockets and pay for it yourself, instead of expecting myself and all other taxpayers to pay for it. This may be a victory for your selfishness, but it is a loss for anybody wanting treatment who would benefit from the improvements, again well done.
The NHS could do with spending a bit less on psychiatry, and then the mental health of the population might improve. It's taxpayers like yourself who are having to pay for all the useless psychiatrists, so your money would acually be better spent on maintaining green spaces and trees, which would benefit everybody's health.
[quote][p][bold]pater mcvey[/bold] wrote: well done to all of you NIMBYS pictured above. But you have got some nerve asking for N.H.S money to help you do whatever it is that you get up to on this land. If you want something done put your grubby little hands in your own pockets and pay for it yourself, instead of expecting myself and all other taxpayers to pay for it. This may be a victory for your selfishness, but it is a loss for anybody wanting treatment who would benefit from the improvements, again well done.[/p][/quote]The NHS could do with spending a bit less on psychiatry, and then the mental health of the population might improve. It's taxpayers like yourself who are having to pay for all the useless psychiatrists, so your money would acually be better spent on maintaining green spaces and trees, which would benefit everybody's health. Isisbridge

8:57am Thu 25 Mar 10

pater mcvey says...

Isisbridge wrote:
pater mcvey wrote: well done to all of you NIMBYS pictured above. But you have got some nerve asking for N.H.S money to help you do whatever it is that you get up to on this land. If you want something done put your grubby little hands in your own pockets and pay for it yourself, instead of expecting myself and all other taxpayers to pay for it. This may be a victory for your selfishness, but it is a loss for anybody wanting treatment who would benefit from the improvements, again well done.
The NHS could do with spending a bit less on psychiatry, and then the mental health of the population might improve. It's taxpayers like yourself who are having to pay for all the useless psychiatrists, so your money would acually be better spent on maintaining green spaces and trees, which would benefit everybody's health.
So what are you saying? that we let all the mentalists run amok amongst some trees rather than treating them.
[quote][p][bold]Isisbridge[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]pater mcvey[/bold] wrote: well done to all of you NIMBYS pictured above. But you have got some nerve asking for N.H.S money to help you do whatever it is that you get up to on this land. If you want something done put your grubby little hands in your own pockets and pay for it yourself, instead of expecting myself and all other taxpayers to pay for it. This may be a victory for your selfishness, but it is a loss for anybody wanting treatment who would benefit from the improvements, again well done.[/p][/quote]The NHS could do with spending a bit less on psychiatry, and then the mental health of the population might improve. It's taxpayers like yourself who are having to pay for all the useless psychiatrists, so your money would acually be better spent on maintaining green spaces and trees, which would benefit everybody's health.[/p][/quote]So what are you saying? that we let all the mentalists run amok amongst some trees rather than treating them. pater mcvey

9:46am Thu 25 Mar 10

Isisbridge says...

Well the "mentalists" (as you call them) would probably derive more benefit from communing with the trees than communing with their psychiatrists!
Well the "mentalists" (as you call them) would probably derive more benefit from communing with the trees than communing with their psychiatrists! Isisbridge

6:25pm Fri 26 Mar 10

RJ says...

Ironically, the meadow was originally bought by the hospital to protect it from developers, and preserve it as a green space for the mental health of the the community. Now anyone can use it, wherever they come from. It is not the preserve of local residents, though they did finance the campaign to save it – out of their own pockets.

They also paid their taxes like everyone else does. The NHS spent taxpayers’ money contesting the status of the meadow.

If NHS property has fallen into disrepair, this is because of budget choices made by the NHS. Costs for refurbishment projects are much, much smaller than the salary budget: so if there is a shortfall, I'm afraid the fastest way to deal with it is to look at staffing costs- just as every other organisation does. Sale of an asset is a desperately short-term measure.
Ironically, the meadow was originally bought by the hospital to protect it from developers, and preserve it as a green space for the mental health of the the community. Now anyone can use it, wherever they come from. It is not the preserve of local residents, though they did finance the campaign to save it – out of their own pockets. They also paid their taxes like everyone else does. The NHS spent taxpayers’ money contesting the status of the meadow. If NHS property has fallen into disrepair, this is because of budget choices made by the NHS. Costs for refurbishment projects are much, much smaller than the salary budget: so if there is a shortfall, I'm afraid the fastest way to deal with it is to look at staffing costs- just as every other organisation does. Sale of an asset is a desperately short-term measure. RJ

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