‘Human error’ halts Garstang 6,000-name petition hearing

Action Garstang to Councillor Mr Peter Gibson -  Mary Randles (chair) presenting,
Action Garstang to Councillor Mr Peter Gibson - Mary Randles (chair) presenting,
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Wyre Council Leader Peter Gibson has wholeheartedly apologised to a Garstang action group after revealing its petition won’t be considered at full council next month.

Action Garstang handed a petition with almost 6,000 signatures to Wyre at the start of December – thinking it would be considered at full council due to the petition scheme on the council’s website.

It was just human error and we all make mistakes at times

Wyre Council Leader

The petition calls for Wyre Council to suspend the sale of the Riverside Car Park and Community Centre located on High Street, Garstang.

But after months of volunteers spending their free time collecting the signatures, Wyre revealed the petition would not be considered.

This is because the petition scheme no longer existed – despite still being on the council’s website.

And Coun Gibson has apologised saying it was a “human error” and something that should have been taken down.

He said: “The Government changed the scheme in July but it should have been taken off the website and I apologise for that.

“It was just human error and we all make mistakes at times. I have spoken to Action Garstang and offered to meet with them as well as Garry Payne (Chief Executive of Wyre) to discuss their views.

“I’m always happy to accept petitions and although this won’t be taken to full council it still bears a lot of weight.

“I’ve only had two petitions in the six years I’ve been leader and this is the biggest so it will definitely be considered even if not officially.”

The 5,936-signiature petition is currently being verified and was officially declared to Wyre in October.

It was started after public outrage over developer Keyworker Homes’ proposal to build 34 retirement apartments and retail units on Garstang Community Centre site.

The site, which also comprises of the riverside car park at the top of High Street, was put up for sale by Wyre Council earlier this year.

But Coun Gibson says it “wouldn’t be sensible” to halt the sale of the centre.

He said: “It was declared as a public asset in 2014 and there was a period of six months where offers could be made to buy it.

“No interest was shown and for that reason it wouldn’t be sensible to start over again. Although no application has been submitted, we do expect one soon, and when it is we will consider what it entails and where to go next.”

Peter Ryder, a member of Garstang Town Council and petition organiser, says the group has not decided its next move.

He said: “I’m glad there has been an apology because we were really disappointed after all the effort we put it to find out it wouldn’t be considered.

“I think they still should have made us aware earlier on that it wouldn’t be considered because lots of people spent a lot of time gaining those signatures. We haven’t decided as to whether we will be taking up the meeting or whether we will put in an official complaint but we do want to do what’s best going forward.”