Thousands in Hitchin sign Churchgate petition

Laura Evans, Alex Brooks, Adrian Smith, Dr. Mike Clarke and Andrew Wearmouth, stand outside St Mary

Laura Evans, Alex Brooks, Adrian Smith, Dr. Mike Clarke and Andrew Wearmouth, stand outside St Marys Church, Hitchin. They all played a part in the petition. - Credit: Archant

A PETITION calling for councillors to refuse Simons’ time extension request has attracted thousands of signatures, even though it’s only been running for a week.

With just hours to go until Simons learns its fate, the petition was handed in to North Herts District Council’s offices.

Campaigners say the 3,100 plus signatures show the level of feeling in the town.

People of all ages and backgrounds have put their name to the petition.

Hitchin resident Adrian Smith, 28, suggested the idea to Hitchin Forum, which in turn launched the campaign.


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He wanted to prove the younger generation did not believe in Simons plans.

“It’s been said a small number of pressure groups are just anti-development,” he said

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“It’s not about being anti-development, it’s about the plans being in keeping with the town, and a lot of young people are anti the Simons plans, as this petition shows.”

Mr Smith, a lawyer, said it was “no surprise at all” to him the petition had amassed so many signatures.

He added: “Simons have had three years to put together some coherent plans, and they have just come back with a few vague drawings.”

Laura Evans, 23, and Alex Brooks, 28, have both been helping spread the word.

Mr Brooks, who works as an architect heritage consultant, has a particular interest in the project.

“I’m not against any development, just this particular development,” he said.

“It comes across as something unthought out, unfinished, and really, in my opinion, it shows a bit of lack of respect for the town.”

Miss Evans added: “I’m not against developing Churchgate at all, I think everybody agrees it needs to be done, it’s just making sure we get the best deal for residents.

“A lot of my friends feel the same.”

Mike Clarke, chairman of Hitchin Forum, handed over the signatures.

He said: “The response has been tremendously encouraging. We were hoping for 1,000 signatures, but after five days we were heading for 2,500, equivalent to 10 per cent of Hitchin’s electorate.

“The comments people have written online while signing it have been passionate, articulate and well informed. The petition gives an excellent snapshot of people’s feelings about Hitchin.

“The clear message to councillors is – do not spoil our treasured town for future generations.”

The meeting will be held at NHDC offices, from 7.30pm tonight. Check the Comet website later for the outcome – there will also be full reaction and reports from the meeting, in next week’s paper.

You can follow tonight’s meeting live, by visiting our homepage or following @laura_burge on Twitter.

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