Tonight I will be attending a meeting of the “Gypsies Green Action Group”, a non political body set up to oppose South Tyneside’s planned developments for the Stadium and surrounding area. I will report on the meeting tomorrow or Wednesday.
However, now may be a good time for me to outline my views on the intended changes. At the moment I am strongly against any development of the Stadium for the purposes outlined by the Council i.e. a commercial hotel under the control of Tavistock Leisure. For brevity, this opposition is based on the following:
1. I feel that the sale price settled on, £15 million, is a gross under evaluation, and as such represents asset stripping by the Council.
2. I have misgivings, on information currently available, on the transparency and openness of the tendering process.
3. Rather than be demolished, Gypsies Green Stadium should be re developed as a first class community leisure centre, with an all weather running track, facilities for all other athletic events and changing rooms for football teams using local football fields. With obesity a current and real health issue for this nation, this type of development is entirely warranted.
4. Public consultation on this issue is deliberately being limited and restricted. No decision should be taken without a more extensive campaign to collate views.
As a member of South Shields Harriers, my individual views on the Stadium and planned developments are clear and unmoveable: the Stadium is a dump and has been allowed to fall into virtual ruin. However, to demolish it would be the final nail in this Borough’s lack of provision of competitive leisure facilities. No wonder the area and country fails to consistently produce the world class athletes that we once did, we don’t have the facilities we used to have. As no plans currently exist to provide alternative venues or amenities the ground needs to be preserved until a more suitable development can be assured.
A long battle lies ahead for both sides on this issue. On one hand we have a group of Councillors and full time officials who seem determined to push this through regardless of public opinion. On the other we have a group of individuals from all walks of working and political life, inexperienced with the mechanisms of bigger government. However, they have 3 things which set them apart from Council mandarins; they have passion, the have the commitment, but most importantly, they KNOW they are right.
Like a good run round Gypsies Green’s track, things are going to get a little bit heated!