Car park plans under fire
Residents and traders packed into a church hall for a public meeting over plans to build homes on a town centre car park.
More than 250 people attended Friday night's meeting in St Peter's Church Hall, Oadby.
MP Edward Garnier had called the meeting to gauge public opinion on the proposed masterplan as outlined by Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.
Part of the plan for the area is to release the borough council's six central car parks to developers to build on.
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Opposition councillors, traders and many residents are concerned about part of the proposals, which could see the 177-space East Street car park turned into a public square with 35 homes and 150 car parking spaces.
Mr Garnier chaired the meeting and there were speeches by Mark Hall, the chief executive of Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, and David Fletcher, chairman of the Oadby Town Centre Association.
Mr Hall was jeered by the audience, who greeted the end of his address with a slow handclap.
Mr Hall told the meeting: "We are here to talk to you and to listen to what you have to say.
"This is the fifth consultation process on this matter and nothing is set in stone.
"This is a plan we are talking about and we want to know what you think."
He said no deals had been done with developers and said that no car parking spaces in the town would be lost.
He said: "There are 373 off-street car parking spaces now and when this development is finished there will be 373 car parking spaces."
David Fletcher, who runs Oadby DIY, which is opposite the East Street car park, said: "Businesses rely on shoppers and it is a fact of life that they come by car.
"By scheduling the East Street car park work first, there will be spaces lost and people will not be able to park. When they cannot park they will go away and not come back."
Jean Boyd, of Oadby, told the meeting: "This is a plan that so many of us know so little about. It is all news to me and I thought I knew a lot of what was going on in Oadby."
Mark Leonard, of Uplands Road, Oadby, said:"Why can't we have an old-style regeneration plan where the council consults traders and residents and does not use consultants to help produce a plan?"
Mr Garnier closed the meeting by giving a pledge to the audience.
He said: "If you people continue to be dissatisfied with this matter, I shall hold a second meeting, a third, fourth, fifth and even a sixth."
After the meeting, Mrs Irene Sibley, 65, of Oadby said: "We just don't want this.
" The town needs its car parking places for shoppers and for the old folk who rely on them to get their shopping done."
Carla Smith, 39, of Primrose Hill, Oadby, said: "I have only been here for 18 months and I love the village feel that Oadby has.
"If this development goes ahead it will destroy that and the number of people here tonight shows you just how strong the feeling is in Oadby against this."