Dear Editor

This coming Saturday, July 24, 2021, there will be a protest gathering at the Camrose Ground starting at 10.30am. The protest has been arranged by concerned residents in Basingstoke and the Basingstoke Town former footballers group.

A thrust of this gathering will be to inform residents on the portions of the Camrose that are owned by Basron (71%) and Basingstoke Council (29%). It is they who must bring it to an end.

On the Basingstoke Council portion of the ground there is a stand which is believed to have been built in 1957. The material used looks like asbestos but this is disputed by former club officials. Basingstoke Council are dedicated to sport of course.

On the Basron portion of the ground we have the next best thing to the abandoned football ground at Chernobyl. If things were not bad enough the owner decided to carry out a re-seeding exercise in the middle of winter using JCB diggers.

Four years ago we went to the Council meetings to show what options could be had for a new football ground. Led by the flamboyant Chas Bradfield from the Council we were advised that discussions on the Council portion of the land were ongoing with other interested parties. Also heaven forbid the Lord Camrose Covenant which was there to protect the stadium for sport until 2053 was lost. Fortunately and to the extreme relief of the townsfolk the document was recovered by the Basingstoke Gazette.

The solution at the July 2017 Council meeting was to move the football club to HFA headquarters at Winklebury. The Council would accept a £250K fee from Basron to help upgrade the facility. In return the Camrose would be sold for development. A replacement football ground at the Camrose would cost around £5 million. In addition the town would be losing one of its two main football arena’s. 

The Camrose development proposals went forward in May 2019 and it gave the protesters the chance to challenge the Scandal. Very quickly Sport England became involved and came up with the same recommendation as Lord Camrose. If the football stadium is to replaced for development purposes then an identical or better stadium must be provided. Subsequent to that of course the opposition to the Development has been overwhelming from the Basingstoke townsfolk.

Of course it is not just the Camrose and the football where there are problems. The Basingstoke Ice Rink requires a repair. Basingstoke Council have blundered around for a long time instead of carrying out the repair to the extent where it is understood sections of the Stadium are out of bounds for safety reasons. As before Basingstoke Council are dedicated to sport. The Bison are a well supported and respected club around the country. They have a big support with large crowds and they are tremendous ambassadors for the town of Basingstoke.

So if you feel you wish to show that you are not entirely satisfied with the Camrose and indeed Ice Arena situations you are welcome to come along on Saturday. The former footballers group will be able to answer any queries relating to the Camrose Stadium.

It is time Basingstoke Council having now blundered around for 4 years got a grip of the situation and produced a Compulsory Purchase Order to reclaim the ground for the townsfolk. 

Yours Sincerely,

David Graham, Mallard Close, Kempshott