Football club should apply a business approach
THERE have been two public meetings regarding Wisbech Town Football Club s applications for a stadium off Lynn Road, Wisbech, which have been described as major developments out of character with the area and not in keeping with Norfolk s development plan
THERE have been two public meetings regarding Wisbech Town Football Club's applications for a stadium off Lynn Road, Wisbech, which have been described as major developments out of character with the area and not in keeping with Norfolk's development plan.
At the first meeting John Petch (then club chairman) was surprised at the number of people opposed to the plans. He explained that Lynn Road was not the club's choice (out of 10 previous sites two had inflated prices and eight were turned down by the council).
Having been assured there would be no problem getting planning approval for the Lynn Road site, the club made a deposit arrangement with the site owner. Mr Petch said that unless planning was refused, the club could not afford to pull out of the deal. In view of the County Council, Parish Council and public objections, the application was withdrawn.
In time a downsized proposal was submitted to appease the objectors and obtain planning permission. If anything, objections increased. A smaller clubhouse and car park were proposed. Looking at this from the club's point of view - less opportunity to raise funds from functions at the clubhouse and, should success on the pitch follow, insufficient parking to cope.
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Club chairman Barry Carter was quoted as saying the Lynn Road site was not the club's choice, but they were being forced into it. Not having attended the second public meeting, he explained "I think these meetings where people rant and rave are not going to change anything." On most other occasions no one from the club was available for comment.
Given that the club is nearly £300,000 in debt it appears that its PR skills are on about the same level.
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It is vital that the "windfall" sale of Fenland Park is not wasted.
Planning approval should be refused by West Norfolk Council, allowing the club to withdraw from the purchase of Lynn Road.
The club should find a site, of its own choosing, with better travel and access links, and lower impact on the surrounding area.Fenland Council should be more pro-active with the club's future ground applications.
The club needs to consult with local people near proposed sites, and apply a business, rather than a football approach to its affairs.