Hundreds of letters from people opposing plans to build a new sports complex in South Shields have today been handed in to South Tyneside Council.
Members of The Friends of Temple Memorial Park handed in 228 objection letters at South Shields Town Hall this morning.
The letters have been collected by the group from residents objecting to the plans to build a new sports complex on the fields of Temple Memorial Park, and fence off up to 40 acres of land from public use.
The Friends of Temple Memorial Park was set up in response to the plans published on November 30, which for many were the first time they’d heard of the plans.
Campaigners say the land was gifted to the people of South Shields in 1944 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for their efforts during the Second World War, and is a recognised war memorial.
Residents are astounded that the council and Westoe Rugby Club have been doing deals on the use of the park without their knowledge, and that objectors were given only three weeks to lodge any complaints.
A public meeting was called by the group on December 21, which was attended by more than 70 members of the local community.
Campaigners claim mandatory notices about the proposed development were taken down from the park boundaries - in a bid to suppress the information, they say.
A Facebook group set up by the Friends has more than 600 members, and it has also set up its own campaign website.
A petition it has been collecting against the plans has more than 2,400 signatures and will be submitted to the council tomorrow - the deadline for submissions against the plans.
The Friends are now looking to establish themselves as a properly-constituted group.
Spokeswoman Claire Wood said: “We know from past campaigns that we can’t sit back and hope the council will look after the park.
"They’ll be back for more, especially if these plans go through. We won’t let them try to hush things through any more!”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “South Tyneside Council officers have not removed any statutory notices.
“Six notices were displayed around the park boundaries on December 1 and these were put up in conjunction with a press notice and the neighbour notification letters.
“Following requests from residents, a further three site notices were added.
“We carried out regular checks to ensure the site notices were in place during the 21 day statutory publicity period and as a result, have replaced several notices which were removed during this period.
“However there is no legal requirement for the notices to be maintained by the Council outside the 21 day publicity period.”