Councils look the other way in community stadium project…
Plans put forward for a community stadium for Gravesham appear to have taken a backward step with news that Kent County Council (KCC) and Gravesham Borough Council (GBC) are not supporting the proposals.
“It appears the A2 Corridor site may be out of reach”, says Brian Kilcullen, Director of Fleet Group Development (FGD).
“We are very disappointed for EUFC and the population of Gravesham that KCC are pressing ahead with plans for an Activity Park on the A2 Corridor without involving the local football club and taking into account the local community. This is despite FGD having presented a case to KCC that shows the A2 site can accommodate a community stadium without delaying or being to the detriment of KCC’s plans”.
“It appears that KCC now have first option on the A2 Corridor and, of course, have shown an unwillingness to work with the football club to date. So we assume this is the end of our aspirations regarding this site”.
“Right from the word go I have sensed a strong resistance to our proposal and have felt no real accountability to the people of Gravesham. So, locally, we are being given cycling routes that mainly only people from outside the area will use and BMX parks and equestrian trails that surely don’t excite us who live in Gravesham. Residents local to the A2 have quite rightly been consulted with regarding the Activity Park and I would hazard a guess that it is a case of preferring a park to an unused area that might attract problems, rather than any great enthusiasm for the park itself. However, since we spoke with GBC last August and KCC last September regarding our idea for a stadium, has there been any consultation by the powers that be to see if the people of Gravesham might also want a stadium on the A2 Corridor? I’ve read that there have been 50 letters of support for the Activity Park. I’m sure there would have been a lot more in support of a stadium if anyone had been asked”.
“This would have been a fantastic site for a community stadium. One major advantage is that the land is very cheap, making the stadium proposal a far easier financial proposition. I can’t see we would get land anywhere near as affordable as this elsewhere; that is even if there was a suitable site available”.
“But what really disappoints me about all this, is that KCC have put up reasons why they don’t think a joint scheme will work, yet when we met them some of those reasons were seemingly no longer such a factor when we mentioned that we may be able to make a financial contribution to the scheme. At a meeting with KCC on 6 May 2009, a representative of KCC stated that the only way they might be persuaded to work with EUFC was if a substantial cash contribution to the A2 Activity Park was pledged by EUFC as a result of incorporating the stadium within the A2 Activity Park. EUFC were invited to submit an offer by 27 May setting out the level of contribution that would arise out of the Stadium Project if KCC permitted the incorporation of a Stadium. So it appears money might have won the day, but not the fact that the people of Gravesham might want a community stadium”.