A LEGAL agreement between Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Basingstoke Town Football Club for the transfer of land needed for a new stadium will not be signed until councillors have seen reports which led to the decision.
Councillor John Izett, cabinet member for property, finance and commissioning, agreed to delay the signing of the agreement after councillors on the borough council’s scrutiny committee criticised the land deal.
As previously reported by The Gazette, councillors on the borough council’s cabinet gave the green light to a legal agreement with the club for the sale of land needed to build a new 5,124-capacity stadium at Old Common Road, in Eastrop, and for the council’s 29 per cent share of the club’s current stadium at The Camrose.
But Labour councillors Laura James, Mark Taylor and Gary Watts, Liberal Democrat members Gavin James and Stuart Parker and Independent councillor Martin Biermann asked the borough council’s scrutiny committee to look at the issue again last Wednesday, and called on the cabinet not to implement the decision.
The group of councillors requested evidence relating to the decision, including an impact assessment, a report on the selection of sites, and potential future uses for The Camrose ground.
Speaking at the scrutiny meeting, Cllr Parker, who represents Eastrop, said that he had been told that the agreed site was the council’s least preferred venue for the stadium.
He said: “I believe officers and members of the administration should have protected the open space at the Old Common Road site by making clear it is not available for development.”
David Knight, secretary at Basingstoke Town FC, defended the cabinet’s decision, telling the meeting: “It (Basingstoke Town FC) deserves a new stadium – it needs one.
“From the club’s point of view, we have worked with the council all the way through the process and we hope this will continue.”
But Labour councillor Paul Harvey, who sits on the scrutiny committee, said there were “unanswered questions”, and he asked for additional information, including financial information from the football club.
He said: “It is clear there are huge issues here. I want to understand, and have confidence in, terms of the football club and their position in all of this. We do need to see this information.”
A scrutiny meeting will be held at the council offices on Tuesday to discuss the additional information before the committee submits their conclusions to the cabinet at their meeting on July 29.