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Bilston playing fields row: Campaigners gather against controversial new homes plan

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A campaign to save the last playing fields in Bilston has been launched as controversial plans to build on them move a step closer.

A report on the land in Prouds Lane will go before Wolverhampton Council's executive committee on January 10 asking them to agree to the development.

The authority wants to build 40 homes on the middle field next to the scout hut in addition to a further 40 homes on the former Bilston Leisure Centre site, which adjoins it.

An application for the latter, known as phase one, has just been been formally submitted to the council.

Bilston councillor Phil Page, who is opposed to the plans, said: "We need to act urgently.

"In my experience, once the executive committee gets involved, things start moving quickly."

Many townspeople believe that the land was left to the community of Bilston and so cannot be built on.

Dennis Evans, treasurer of the 1st Bilston Scouts, thinks the land was bought with money left over from a public fund which raised money for a cenotaph for the servicemen of Ettingshall and Springvale.

The field was originally used by Bilston Football Club, who have voiced an interest in taking over the site and managing it for the community.

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Councillor Page is pursuing a lead that the site was left to the youth of Bilston by Emma Bussey, a late resident who died in 1971.

She set up a charity in her will which gives annual grants to community groups in Bilston.

He is appealing to anyone with information abut the ownership of the field, after Wolverhampton Council said there were no legal documents covering the site.

Councillor Page said: "We believe the land was left to the council for the people of Bilston, although officers have checked with land property and say there's no covenance on it.

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"I'd be extremely grateful if people could help with any information.

"There's no good saying that the land was left for the youth of Bilston if we can't prove it."

He said Wolverhampton MP Pat McFadden's office was getting him a copy Miss Bussey's will. In the meantime, a petition was being launched to oppose building on the plot.

Residents rounded on council officers at a meeting earlier this month as plans to build on the middle of three adjoining fields on Prouds Lane were revealed.

Wolverhampton council had sent out just 100 letters to inviting householders living near the site to a meeting about building 40 homes on the first field, the site of former Bilston Leisure Centre.

But the letter also referred to a plan for to develop the next door playing fields, which would double the size of the development.

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