Sunday, 13 May 2012

My thoughts on the stadium proposal

My column in this week’s Cornish Guardian focuses on the various intrigues around the proposed stadium for Cornwall. It is as follows:

There is nothing I like more than watching a game of rugby. My wife and I rarely miss home games at Redruth RFC and we always try to follow Cornwall in the County Championship.

It will therefore surprise no-one that I believe Cornwall merits decent sporting facilities. I believe it is wrong that Cornwall, unlike most other areas, does not have a purpose-built sporting stadium.

But the whole issue surrounding a stadium for Cornwall has been badly mishandled by the unitary authority and the project has now become mired in controversy. It is becoming ever more difficult to tell the facts from the fiction.

Only two months ago, councillors were informed that Cornwall Council would not be putting “public money” into the project.

Councillors were told that the stadium would be fully funded through the Cornwall Community Stadium Ltd (CCSL) set up by the Inox Group (who were seeking planning consent for 1,500 housing units on nearby land), the Cornish Pirates rugby club and Truro / Penwith College.

Just two weeks ago, Inox’s housing development in Truro was approved by Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee. Members of the committee were told that the application for housing was “separate” from the stadium plans. But it was a key contributory factor and may have influenced how members voted.

And yet within days of approving the housing, Cornwall Council received a request from Inox / CCSL advising that the stadium project could not proceed without significant financial support from the local authority.

A report has already been tabled for “emergency” discussion at Full Council with councillors asked to debate whether it “would be appropriate” for the Council to take the lead in delivering the stadium.

The report itself lacks detail. It does not explain why funding could not be found and says nothing about what governmental, grant or European funding might, or might not, be available. It does however suggest that upto £10 million of capital funding could be allocated towards the project by the Council.

I remain extremely cynical at how the request for funding arrived so soon after Inox had achieved consent for their megabucks housing scheme, and then how a report could be brought to the Council so quickly.

It is hardly surprising that so many people are angry that Cornwall Council appears able to find monies for certain projects, while it continues to cut services and make staff redundant in this age of austerity.

As a “backbench” councillor, I feel we have been denied the full facts, I remain troubled at what is going on and I have dozens of questions that need answering.

But think on this. Central government is spending over £12 billion on the Olympics, including new venues such as the Olympic Stadium (£500 million plus), in an area where there is already a plethora of sporting arenas.

Isn’t it time that Cornwall had its fair share of such government sporting investment? 

1 comment:

JBE said...

Indeed. Just not at Threemilestone as part of a)the Council's disastrous housing acceleration and b) its increasingly Trurocentric view of Cornwall. Build it in Bodmin - possibly on the existing but tragically underused Priory Park site (not the playpark, the sports ground) and help regenerate this great town.