From the Yorkshire Post:

Gordon Gibb claims parish council are trying to smear Flamingoland

Flamingoland boss Gordon Gibb, whose company have a planning application in for Loch Lomondside.

The gloves are off in the battle between a millionaire theme-park owner and his rural neighbours, in a planning row over a 200ft-high amusement ride. Former Bradford City Chairman and Flamingo Land boss Gordon Gibb has written an open letter to villagers making an astonishing attack on parish councillors in Kirby Misperton.

He is also threatening to scrap a scheme which allows village families into his adjoining Flamingo Land zoo and theme park.

And there will be a review of the arrangement in which many visitors are now delivered direct by coach to the site rather than being dropped at the village bus stop.

Villagers say this could lead to renewed complaints about courting couples, litter and rowdy behaviour.

Mr Gibb claims the parish council has conducted a “smear campaign” against his Cliff Hanger ride, branded an eyesore by critics of its red-and-white cladding and red light on the top.

A public inquiry ordered Mr Gibb to remove all the cladding and the light, paint the ride grey, and reduce its height.

He carried out the work on the top half. But the bottom half is still red and white.

When Mr Gibb applied earlier this year for the rest of the recommendations to be waived, the parish council successfully objected, saying Mr Gibb should stick to what had been decided by the public inquiry.

But Mr Gibb says remarks by parish councillors – published in the village news letter – were “inflammatory”.

His letter continues: “As a consequence of this aggressive stance, we have decided to suspend the village pass scheme and this gesture of goodwill is now in jeopardy.

“Although it is not our intention to hold the silent majority responsible for the remarks of the unsilent minority, we do feel that good relationships are a two-way street.”

The letter also criticised the Rev Norman Lewis, parish councillor and also clerk to the parish council, claiming he wielded too much power over local decision-making.

Yesterday Mr Lewis, 70, a retired vicar from Bolton, said he was seeking legal advice about the allegations.

He added: “There was a serious debate about the Cliff Hanger application, and ultimately the decision was the unanimous view of the whole parish council.”

Mr Lewis, who has lived in the village for 14 years, 12 of them as unpaid clerk to the council, said he did not know whether the allegations had affected his standing in the community.

“We will find out at the next election I suppose,” he said. “In the meantime I will continue to try and serve the parish and parish council to the best of my ability.”

Council chairman Michael Gilliatt said he was very concerned about the letter and wanted to meet Mr Gibb to discuss it.

“It is an attack on the parish clerk and the council as a whole. Mr Lewis has been clerk for all these years and never taken a penny in pay.”

But the parish council is now under fire from villagers who are concerned about losing the passes which allow their children to visit Flamingo Land all year for 15.50 each. The normal admission is 15.50 each visit.

Nicole Chiverton said she and her sons Daniel, 10, and Luke, four, had been regular visitors but were turned away last week.

She said: “I can’t understand the criticisms of the Cliff Hanger anyway. I think it looks better with the red and white lines.

“I can’t see the point of the objections.”

She added: “Flamingo Land does a lot for the village and a lot of the villagers work there. We only wanted to go for an hour last week but they would not let us in because of all this.

Local father Stuart Bell said: “This does seem a little petty. But he is trying to run a business and there has to be give and take.

“Personally I think the councillors have been a little harsh. But we do use the passes a lot and this seems a bit tit for tat.”

Flamingo Land said the meeting to discuss the village pass scheme would be held today and Mr Gibb did not want to comment beforehand.


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