On the march to save Sudbury Belle Vue

A protest march brought traffic to a standstill as campaigners – fearing for the future of a much-loved park – voiced their anger on the streets.

Hundreds of protesters, young and old, gathered at Sudbury's Belle Vue park to hear 15-year-old Michael Irwin launch a stinging attack on Babergh District Council's proposals to sell parkland to developers.

He said: "This is our park, it was gifted to the people of Sudbury. This is one of the last green spaces in the town centre where young and old can spend time in the fresh air and we must maintain it.

"We need to let Babergh know they have no right to allow developers in here and it's time they came clean on what they are planning."

Fellow protester, Kieran Risby, 16, received applause when he questioned how many Babergh staff had ever come to Belle Vue.

"I doubt they have ever been here and seen what a vital space this is for all ages of people," said the Sudbury Upper School pupil. "We are the people who will be voting soon and those who keep secrets, who do not act with the best interests of the people will not get our vote."

The march streamed out of Belle Vue, circled around the town centre before congregating outside the Town Hall.

George Gardner, 67, former headteacher of Long Melford Primary School, said the anger shown was part of a much wider picture.

"Provision for the young in Sudbury is very poor," he said. "The district council is quite clearly failing people, especially the young, and any decisions that might take away more open space could only be the action of a very poor, disengaged local authority."

As passing drivers hooted horns in support, Sylvia Byham, a town councillor said it was time Babergh faced the people of Sudbury and stopped hiding.

"Babergh has let planners and developers rape this town because they do not talk to the councillors and people that live here, who understand what is needed," she said.

Valerie Moulton, 79, a regular visitor to the park since childhood, said it was fantastic to see youngsters organising the rally.

She said: "We are joining forces with them. Together we are telling Babergh to start acting with integrity and warning them to keep their hands off what belongs to us."

Further protests are planned next month. For more information visit Michael's website at www.bebo.com/savebellevue.