Today was the recommend date set by the independent inspector for both myself, as the applicant, and Wigan Council, the sole objector, for the Ashfield Village Green Application. However, this was only a recommend date because the hearing is classed as a "non statutory" hearing, meaning that the registration authority - which is also Wigan Council, organises the hearing after getting recommendations from the independent Inspector. In fact should we be successful in the Village Green Public Inquiry it will be a recommendation made by the Independent Inspector and then the Council themselves will either make the order to make Ashfield a Village Green or deny it. However, whilst this may cause concern that the Council can ignore the recommendation made by the Inspector they would have to have a very good reason otherwise they leave themselves open to a legal challenge.
Back to today, this was the day recommended for both sides to hand over their evidence to the other side. The Council earlier this week confirmed the date had moved to next Tuesday at 4pm.
Whilst we had arranged to go and do the exchange today when we arrived the Council, again as the objector wasn't ready with their evidence. So after arriving with 8 large lever arch files with 000's of pages of evidence and the Council wasn't ready with theirs I left - with all the evidence and I will hand over only when Wigan Council have theirs ready.
Whilst Wigan Council has tried so many times over the last few years, and certainly over the last few weeks, to try and discredit the campaign it shows today with all our evidence, they have failed - monumentally. The residents have helped with 00's of witness statements and also rallied to help fund the skeleton legal argument that is in the bundles too.
However, with the deadline for the evidence to be exchanged moved to Tuesday it now gives anyone that was thinking of doing a Witness Statement the last chance to complete one. Should you want to help and give your voice and backing to the campaign and join the 000's that already have please just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
After the deadline has passed there will not be another chance to put in your witness statements. They only take a few minutes to download, print out and then fill out. We can come and collect them from you too. Then from Tuesday we will be working with the people that have agreed to speak at the public hearing and working on our case that we will be presenting at the Public Inquiry.