More than 3,500 people signed a petition urging Fenland District Council to find a new home for March fountain.
The petition will debated at Monday’s full council meeting.
It comes as the council announced today that work on dismantling the fountain can resume now nesting doves that halted the removal have “fledged successfully”.
The petition, with 3,587 signatures, says the intended location of the fountain in front of Malletts was announced “without any consultation with the proprietors or their near neighbours.
“It is unacceptable to place the fountain in front of a retail unit with a shop window for display and this petition is to ask for your support with the appeal to have it at another location.”
Work to dismantle the fountain and store it for up to 18 months before moving it to a new position is, for now, back under way.
But petitioners hope the council will have a change of heart and find a new location for it once it is returned to the town centre.
The council says the petitioner will be given five minutes to present it.
Councillors will then have 15 minutes to debate it.
The council has outlined its possible responses:
1: Take the action the petition requests.
2: Not take the action requested for the reasons put forward in the debate.
3: Commission a further investigation into the matter e.g. by a relevant committee; or where it is a matter in respect of which the council’s executive are required to make a decision, the council will decide whether to make recommendations to the Cabinet to inform that decision.
But it is not as simple as even that, councillors will be told.
“On this occasion it would not be appropriate for council to take the action the petition requests without a full understanding of the risks/issues/costs and implications of taking such action,” says the report to councillors.
“Therefore, members should only consider whether to not take the action requested or refer to Cabinet with recommendations.”
Councillors will be told it all boils down to this: reject the petition or refer the matter to Cabinet “and make recommendations to inform Cabinet’s decision”.
The report to councillors reminds them that the Broad Street regeneration project “is about ensuring that the town centre has a sustainable future”.
That includes being “best placed” to respond to the planned housing growth, the need to attract new visitors, and to show it can compete against other towns as a retail and leisure centre.
Total funding of £8.4m has been secured to fund the improvements.
The need to move the fountain is to allow changes to the Broad Street road layout.
Fundamentally the scheme will pedestrianize the northbound carriageway whilst retaining the southbound carriageway.
The traffic lights as the northern end of Broad Street are set to be replaced with a mini roundabout, “increasing the flow, and reducing pollution caused by standing traffic”.
The report adds: “For the investment in the town to be realised and the new road layout to be implemented, the historic fountain must be relocated.”
Work to remove the Grade II listed fountain as part of the ongoing town centre regeneration was due to begin on 26 June but was postponed as soon as the nesting doves were found.
An initial ecological assessment confirmed that a dove had chosen the fountain as its nesting site.
A Fenland District Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased to share the positive outcome of a further ecological survey carried out by an independent assessor.
“The survey results confirm that the dove has successfully fledged the nest, marking an important milestone in the preservation of local wildlife.
“As a result, we are now prepared to proceed with the planned works to remove and store the historic structure.
“Over the next few days, members of the public will notice the initial stages of the works taking place to prepare the structure for removal.
“The project team will ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to minimise disruption and to guarantee the safety of both the public and the surrounding environment.
“The council would like to extend its gratitude to Green Willows Associates for their invaluable expertise in conducting the ecological assessments.
“This collaborative effort showcases our commitment to maintaining a harmonious balance between urban development and the preservation of local wildlife.”
For further updates on the progress of the Broad Street regeneration project:
- Visit March Town Centre regeneration webpages.
- Contact the project team at: HighStreetProject@fenland.gov.uk.
- Visit the council’s weekly coffee morning, held at the Octavius offices, 2 Broad Street (former Barclays Bank), every Thursday from 11am to 1pm. Representatives will be on hand to answer any questions regarding the scheme.
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