Campaign Against the Rehabilitation of Sex Offenders in Edenfield Gathers Pace
|Author: Christine Smith||Published: 15th May 2011 20:23|
The wet weather didn't put off around 200 Edenfield residents today (Sunday) as they stepped up their campaign to stop sex offenders being rehabilitated in Chatterton Hey House, on their doorstep in Edenfield.
Langley House Trust, which operates Chatterton Hey House, plan to extend their services to include sex offenders. Whilst they claim that these, in the majority, will be elderly and immobile, information received indicates that this is not the case, and they could be as young as 18 years of age. It is unknown how many of Chatterton Hey House's 13 residents would be rehabilitated sex offenders.
This proposal has angered Edenfield residents, whose children play on the field opposite Chatterton Hey House, and attend nearby Edenfield Pre-School.
Edenfield residents have set up a Facebook page 'Say No to Chatterton Hey.. Keep Edenfield Safe..' in protest at the plans and a group of residents have been visiting homes in the Edenfield area to alert them to this proposal. A small group spent yesterday at Morrisons in Ramsbottom, collecting petition signatures and an online petition has been set up by County Councillor Darryl Smith, who is also a resident of Edenfield.
Protest in Edenfield: Local residents gather to make their
voices heard in the fight to prevent Chatterton Hey House
being used to rehabilitate sex offenders
Today, around 200 residents gathered in Edenfield for a peaceful protest against the plans, which saw adults and children brave the wet weather to demonstrate. The group was joined by MP for Rossendale and Darwen Jake Berry and County Councillor Darryl Smith, who both back the residents' objections. The well-organised protest walk progressed from Exchange Street, to Chatterton Hey House, along the public footpath and back to the main road, and certainly attracted attention from residents who had chosen to stay at home but were drawn to their windows and doors by chants of "No way to Chatterton Hey".
One resident spoke of far-reaching consequences for the village of Edenfield should these proposals go ahead. Given the proximity of Edenfield Pre School to Chatterton Hey House, she had concerns that parents would choose to send their children elsewhere, thus having a negative impact on the pre school and, in turn, Edenfield Community Centre.
Finishing back at Chatterton Hey House, Councillor Darryl Smith and MP Jake Berry addressed the crowds. Darryl Smith stated that Edenfield residents "Don't like, don't want and won't have" Langley House Trust's proposals. Darryl had previously been given misleading information regarding what the change of use would entail and his presence at today's protest showed that he is 100% behind the residents and will support them throughout the campaign.
Jake Berry MP is meeting with the executives of Langley House Trust next week and vowed to communicate the strength of feeling of Edenfield residents and use photos to show them the success of today's protest and wealth of support that the 'no campaign' has locally. Should the proposals go ahead, Jake promised to tell Langley House Trust that residents would "protest next week, and the week after that, and the week after that, until they change their minds". He will demand that there will be no more lies and mis-information and assured residents that Edenfield will know as soon as he knows about the decision regarding the change of use.
Caron Beard, one of the organisers of today's protest, told AboutMyArea that prior to Saturday 700 letters of petition had been collected in protest at the plans and that "a mountain of signatures" were collected at Morrisons yesterday. The actual number of people signing the online petition won't be updated until tomorrow (Monday) when Rossendale Council sends the confirmation e-mails to those who have signed over the weekend.
Caron is grateful for the help that she received in organising today's protest and, indeed, for the help from a number of people over the past week. Colin, her husband, has been behind her all the way, and she also wishes to thank Louise Aspin, Lindsey and Wayne Robinson, Joanna o'Shaughnessy, Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator Melanie Wing, Matt Mead and Zoe Kirven for making the banners.
A decision is expected on Wednesday, when a meeting will be held between Langley House Trust, the Probation Service and Rossendale Police. Should residents be unhappy with the decision that is reached, further action will be taken to attempt to overturn this.