AHEAD of the meeting of the borough council Development Control Committee on Wednesday, September 23, The Gazette sent a copy of last week’s paper to the 12 councillors who will be voting on the future of the Camrose.

In an open letter to the committee, we urged the members to listen to the widely voiced views of local people and vote against plans to build on the Camrose football ground. 

Most of the councillors confirmed they had received their copy of the paper, but all refused the opportunity to respond to it, or could not be reached, ahead of Wednesday evening’s meeting. 

While councillors cannot disclose how they will vote ahead of the decision, as this would be considered predetermination and result in them being unable to participate in the proceedings, they may speak in general terms about the topic, provided he or she makes it clear they are willing to listen to all the considerations presented at the committee before deciding on how to vote.

They are currently making their way through a large number of relevant documents in order to prepare for Wednesday evening.

In light of this, we asked each of the members who will vote on the development proposals to describe the Camrose situation in a sentence.

All made clear that they would not be voicing opinions on the decision itself ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, for the reasons outlined above.

Cllr Paul Miller (Chair), Conservative 

“I think the whole topic has been totally confused,” he said.

“Whatever goes on about what happened in the past in terms of sport is not in the domain of local authorities, it is in the domain of Sport England and that is where it has all got confused.”

Cllr Anne Court (Vice-Chair), Conservative 

No comment.

Cllr Dave George, Conservative 

No comment.

Cllr David leeks, Conservative 

Cllr Leeks could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

Cllr Nicholas Robinson, Conservative  

“I fully understand the situation with the Camrose and that is all I am willing to say at this stage,” he said.

Cllr Sven Godesen, Conservative 

Cllr Godesen could not be reached for comment this afternoon. 

Cllr Jane Frankum, Labour

Cllr Frankum is stepping in for her colleague, Cllr Ruth Cooper, as she continues her recovery following hospitalisation with coronavirus earlier this year

She said: “I was on it [the committee] for a long time and I came off it as it could be frustrating because sometimes you knew something was morally wrong, but there was no legal reason.

“I will take everything that I know, that I have heard and that I have read, listen to the evidence, and I will vote on my conscience.” 

Cllr Stephanie Grant, Labour

No comment 

Cllr Andrew McCormick, Labour

“Without prejudicing any decision, the crux of it is, if Basingstoke FC are going to have to move from the Camrose then they need to move to a like-for-like ground and it is up to the council to provide any necessary assistance with that,” he said.

“The council needs to make sure that we have a substantial Section 106 contribution from Basron. That probably is not going to be enough to facilitate a move to a category D stadium, but it needs to go some way.”

Cllr McCormick pointed out that other clubs in the area, which have previously faced similar scenarios, had new grounds “ready to go before they have developed” and that he can therefore “see where the fans are coming from in this case.”

“They have been very let down, there is no mistaking that,” he said.

“It is never useful to second guess how a development control committee will vote, they often defy expectations. But what they will be doing is looking at planning law and recommendations.”

Cllr Michael Bound, Liberal Democrats

No comment.

Cllr Paul Harvey, Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Cllr Harvey will be stepping in for his colleague, Cllr David Potter, who cannot be present at Wednesday’s meeting due to prior arrangements. 

Cllr Harvey could not be reached for comment this afternoon. 

Cllr Chris Tomblin, Basingstoke & Deane Independent Group

Cllr Tomblin said: “It is a development committee meeting and it has to follow government guidelines. Unfortunately, the government probably knows nothing about Basingstoke and football. 

“We will see how it goes on the evening. It is an opportunity to take on board the information from officers and for councillors to see whether or not they agree, but it comes down to a standard planning application. Sadly they write rules and we have to follow those rules. 

“Perhaps Basingstoke doesn’t want or need more houses but the country does and we might not like it but we have to follow those rules.”