Row over Cradley park road name

First published in Local
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THE naming of a retirement village road, which has carved Cradley’s Homer Hill Park in two, after the benefactor who provided it, has been dubbed an “insult”.

Campaigners against the building of the extra care complex on the former Cradley High School had hoped a covenant protecting the adjoining park for recreation use only would halt the building.

But the Charities Commission allowed Dudley Council to widen the driveway and fence it off from the parkland with just one access point to make the access to the £18 million development.

Friends of the park committee member Jill Guest slammed the council for not consulting before approving the name Benjamin Drive, after wealthy chain maker Benjamin Hodgetts.

She said: “Naming the road which now cuts Homer Hill Park in half after Benjamin Hodgetts who gave the land to the park in the first place is seen by most people as an insult to his name rather than the honour which the council seems to think it is; yet another example of Cradley being ignored.”

Mrs Guest, who is also treasurer of the Cradley Then and Now Historical Group, said the family of Mr Hodgetts, who died in 1926, including his granddaughter Muriel Bennett, aged 97, were also dismayed.

Fellow friend of the park Harry Bloomer said: “It should never have happened. It was inconsiderate to the existing Hodgetts’ family to use his name without any consultation.”

The council’s assistant director for economic, regeneration and transportation Phil Coyne said the name had been agreed following "the normal consultation process with elected council members".

He added:: "The road name was selected in honour of an important local chain maker who had a big influence on Homer Hill Park.” Cradley councillor Richard Body, who went against his Labour group in opposing the development, said he had not objected to the name.

But he added: “The road naming after Ben Hodgetts will if anything remind us all what has been lost.”

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