YEARS of worry, resentment and suspicion harboured by people living in and around the Cotswold Water Park found voice yesterday at a packed public meeting chaired by Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

More than 150 people packed into Somerford Keynes village hall on Friday night to hear Dennis Grant, chief executive officer of the Cotswold Water Park Society (CWPS), answer his critics.

Sharing the stage with Mr Grant were Wiltshire Councillor Brian Atfield, CWPS chairman, and Shaun Parsons, Gloucestershire County Councillor and chairman of the joint local authority committee which oversees operations at the water park.

CWPS financial director Nick Hanson was close at hand to answer the many questions from the floor about the financial dealings of the society.

Most questions were directed at Mr Grant and many concerned the spending of CWPS money with companies of which Mr Grant and Mr Hanson were, or had been, directors or were suspected of having a beneficial interest in.

Mr Grant responded that some of the companies had never traded and of those that had neither he nor Mr Hanson had ever benefited financially.

On the matter of public access to Keynes Country Park (KCP) since its leasing to development company Watermark Mr Grant said that free access by foot and by cycle had been offered by Watermark to people living in postcodes close to the country park.

The offer had, however, not been taken up because neighbouring parish councils had decided they would prefer to apply for designated footpath status.

Cllr Parsons explained that the designation process was extremely protracted and could take as long as 11 years, although he would very much like to see the KCP applications dealt with in one to two years.

At the end of the meeting, water park resident Cllr Esmond Jenkins, the Cotswold District Councillor largely responsible for the meeting taking place, was invited by Mr Clifton-Brown to ask the final question.

However, when Cllr Jenkins told Mr Clifton-Brown to keep an eye on his election prospects, and then refused to withdraw the remark, the MP stopped Cllr Jenkins from speaking and the meeting was closed.

* For more details of what happened at this lively meeting see the Wilts & Glos Standard on Thursday, April 1.