The Council keeps claiming that there are rumours and myths being spread and yet each time, they fail to substantiate any of their “facts”. Their latest “Factsheet” is peppered with phrases which are clearly spin. Take a look at the words used… “could”, “should”, “potential”, “suggests”, “probably”, “possibly”.
If the Council wishes to state things as facts then let’s see some substance instead of spin. Let’s see phrases like “gliding and light aviation WILL continue seven days a week”, “The Council WILL ensure that any agreement with the Clubs WILL legally commit the Clubs, the Directors and the financiers”, “the stadium WILL NOT be used for music events”.
How many ratepayers have seen copies of the plans showing the proposed layout of the rugby stadium, the extra pitches, conference centre and other facilities and the associated housing? Answer is that the Council has failed to disclose any of these facts publicly and details have been obtained only through formal Freedom of Information disclosure requests – which they have fought against. The reality is that Wycombe Air Park covers 240 acres and is in Green Belt on the edge of the Chilterns AONB. Plans that have been obtained show the potential layouts and allocation of space. These confirm that a significant portion of the 240 acre site would be sacrificed. Whilst the rugby & football pitches may be grass, that doesn’t mean they’d still be considered Green Belt! GASP doesn’t claim, as Cllr Clarke intimates, that the stadium will take up 240 acres. What we are saying is that the stadium, supporting facilities and enabling development will consume a major proportion of a 240 acre site. That’s not even taking into account any additional harm to Green Belt that the building of new roads or access routes will incur.
The number of houses to be built is another area that the Council has failed to confirm as they keep saying that the number of houses will depend upon the amount of land that needs to be sold. That in turn is dependent upon the value of the land and how much the Council will be paying to build another stadium. Has the Council officially admitted yet what the likely cost of the stadium will be ? Have they confirmed how much of this bill they’ll be expected to pay (and what contribution the Clubs will make)? Have they given an indication as to the likely market value of the land ? Until these amounts are known they can’t claim to know how many houses will be built. To use their phraseology, it “could” be 600 houses.
Equally it “could” be 2000.
Finally, Cllr Clarke suggests that it’s the Clubs who are proposing building on Green Belt and not the Council. It’s the Council’s own Planning Department that will be charged with approving or rejecting the plans, so how is it expected that they’ll remain impartial after the Council has already spent £500,000 on the project? It was clear to the Council’s own Improvement & Review Commission that the proposal would not overcome the “Very Special Circumstances” required to meet Green Belt planning constraints. So, why did Cabinet push ahead with working with the Clubs and extend further the collaboration agreement with WSD Ltd?”. This was despite a FACT that Wycombe Wanderers have announced that their losses have increased from £693,000 to over a million pounds. London Wasp’s accounts are showing by Companies House as overdue so we don’t know yet what picture their accounts will paint. Perhaps responsibility for reviewing the planning application should be passed to another local authority such as South Bucks District Council? They seem pretty busy fighting AGAINST a proposed development in Green Belt though.
Gary Nuttall Chairman – GASP
(Groups Against Stadium Proposals)