A community is in danger of being ripped apart by bitter divisions over which option to vote for in a regeneration ballot at the end of November, a committee heard.
Residents on part of the Fullers Slade estate will be asked to vote on November 29 and 30 for one of three options ranging from no regeneration at all to partial demolition and refurbishment involving more than 400 homes.
“I am concerned about rifts on Fullers Slade,” said Bianca Bendig-Ceesay, who chairs the Fullers Slade Residents Association. “There have been unpleasant posts on Facebook, people are trolling other people.”
Speaking at a MK Council Regeneration Scrutiny Committee meeting on Wednesday (Oct 30) she added: “A lot of residents do not interact on Facebook any more because of the fear of trolling.”
At another point in the meeting the newly elected Stony Stratford Town Councillor said: “It’s getting out of hand.”
Although the result will trigger the start of a planning process, the vote will be binding on all residents, however they vote.
A fourth possible option for wholesale demolition was removed some weeks ago because high costs made it not viable, the meeting was told.
David Lee, of Residents of Regeneration Estates (RoRE) said: “Our biggest concern is not with the ballot but past the ballot. We have the possibility of a divided community.
“We need to work together to make sure the community works together past the ballot as one community.”
Cllr Anne Cryer-Whitehead (Lab, Stony Stratford) is a council tenant on the Fullers Slade estate who said anti-regeneration posters had appeared on trees across the estate. She wants the community to stay together.
“It’s about working as a community to get this regeneration done and make Fullers a better place,” she said.
Cllr Terry Baines (Cons, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said the process meant that it was possible to “please all the people all of the time.
“But when you have two groups of people against each other, that is something we should never have allowed to happen.”
The committee is scrutinising the regeneration process to make sure that lessons are learned from the experiences on Fullers Slade, and at the Lakes Estate, in Bletchley.
The committee also heard that, with just weeks to go to the crunch vote, residents are still waiting for information on how the various options will affect them.
Michael Kelleher, the council’s director of housing and regeneration, told the committee that he would ensure all the information was available at least two weeks before the ballot, and he added: “If we can we will make it earlier.”
The committee also heard complaints that some people had received their polling cards but others had not.
“I am aware of a number who have not received polling cards and am assured that they will be issued. It’s not necessarily a mistake, they could be in the post but we will check,” said Mr Kelleher.