On Thursday 30th March, KFIB put forward the following questions to the council:
Owner of the Camrose site Rafi Razzak has stated his intention to sell his 71% of the site for property development, making it all but certain that, without Council help, Basingstoke Football club will have to relocate outside the town.
1. Will BDBC grant him planning permission to do this?
2. Will BDBC sell him its 29% of the site to help facilitate this?
3. Will BDBC provide a new site within the town within Rafi’s timeframe for property development?
4. Does BDBC want a football club in the town’s name playing at a level appropriate for the town’s population size and at a modern stadium within the town?
In short, does BDBC wish to take pride in the town’s football club and reflect that pride in the help it gives it?
Cllr Simon Bound, Cabinet Member for Communities & Community Safety addressed the questions in front of the full BDBC, here is his response to the above questions from last night:
I thank Mr Hood for his questions.
I have had discussions with Basingstoke Town Football Club for some time and at an urgently arranged meeting on Tuesday of this week they told us of their plans to ground share with Farnborough for next season.
While, as widely reported, I still do not understand the rush to vacate the Camrose Stadium, I share the fans’ concern about trying to understand a clear way forward to keep the club in the borough and indeed the town.
So to answer Mr Hood’s questions directly:
1) There is a clear and well documented process which any planning application would need to follow and I don’t believe the football club or the land owners have started such a process.
2) We have not received any request to sell Mr Razzak the land owned by the borough council at the Camrose site.
3) We don’t have any suitable land for a football club that we can make available. Many sites have been assessed as to their viability over the years and I would repeat that I have expressed my concern around the Football Club time pressures to find a deliverable option wherever that site might be.
I will answer question 4 with his summary question if I may.
The club has put forward the ground share with Farnborough as a short term option while they fully investigate the future of the Camrose site. I believe every councillor would like to see that include plans for upgrading the stadium at the current site. I have always said that finding another suitable site is likely to take time and that there are no ‘easy option’ pieces of public land or indeed land in private ownership.
On Tuesday the club did share with me that they are looking at other longer term locations in the borough and I urged them to ensure that they investigate these options through our planning team and gain local community support.
To date neither officers nor my-self have been given any plans, or business plans, for us to consider how we could offer support, of any kind, for any of the options that have been discussed over the last six months. Even after repeated requests to do so, so that we can at least carry out some initial assessments and this is disappointing as it is clear time is of the essence.
I can confirm that only this morning we have received a non site specific expression of interest form for funding support to assist in improving pitch standards to 3G to assist them to remain in the borough.
I wish the football clubs, both the men’s and women’s team well in finding a resolution, I ask the owners of the ground to give the clubs the time that is required to find a solution, and as a very proud owner of a “Stokie” the dragon mascot I hope we get the right result and I promise Mr Hood and other fans to do my best in supporting them to achieve that, wherever that forever home may be.
DR Paul Harvey (Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Basingstoke. Former Council Leader. Councillor for Norden) then suggested that this subject matter deserved its own meeting where the council could properly engage with the community and supporters. This went to the vote and has been motioned. We will confirm the date once this has been confirmed!
It is clear from speaking to Councillor Bound that he is trying to do much behind the scenes but this is proving difficult with what is currently a very fragmented situation between clubs, owner, land owners and fans. Hope KFIB and the Council can continue to try and pull many of these strands together under “Keep Football in Basingstoke”.
Thank you to Ian Davies for your questions submitted to KFIB.