Tom Blenkinsop in “think again” plea to Middlesbrough Council over future of Lingfield Countryside Centre

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP has today (23rd February 2012) pleaded with Middlesbrough Borough Council to “think again” over the future of the Lingfield Countryside Centre in Coulby Newham.

The farm was part of the land purchased for the development of the Coulby Newham estate, and up to recent years has been an outdoor leisure centre for local youngsters and the Coulby Newham community. It is currently unused and the council have now said that they want to look at releasing the land for development.

Tom said “I am a realist, and I am only too well aware of the tremendous pressures put on local councils by the financial cuts imposed by the coalition government, and it is no surprise that they do have to look to develop land they own to help to fund services. However, I do have to say that the local community have always seen the Lingfield Countryside Centre as a local amenity and a ‘green lung’ for Coulby Newham.

Up to now this had been recognised by Middlesbrough Council, and indeed the latest edition of their “green strategy” saw the importance of centres like this, and suggested the expansion of Lingfield Countryside Centre as a field study centre, an eco-park and a educational resource for local schools. It was suggested that this could be part funded by European development funding.

The problem is, is that if the centre is sold off, and then goes under concrete for more housing, the chances of such an ambition for Coulby Newham is lost forever. I am told by local people that this is something they would hate to see happening.

Middlesbrough Council have said that they want to study a document their officers will be drawing up as a basis for looking to the future of the site. I would hope – and I will be formally asking – for this document to also look at keeping the centre alive and to explore options to allow this to happen.”

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