Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have published a statement supporting the Save Our Stow consortium, see below:
Cllr John Macklin
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Waltham Forest Council
Like the many residents who have written to us expressing their views on the closure, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I are enormously disappointed at the recent turn of events regarding the future of Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium.
The huge show of support from residents and punters alike demonstrates the obvious affection that local people have for the Stadium. A quick straw poll in a recent meeting suggests that you would struggle to find a local Liberal Democrat councillor who has not at one point enjoyed a visit to ‘The Stow’!
Farid Ahmed and myself recently met a team from Save Our Stow at the Town Hall to hear about their plans to keep the Stadium in business as a greyhound racing venue.
We are, of course, fully in support of their efforts to keep the Stadium as both a greyhound racing track and a sport and leisure venue. As we told the team from Save Our Stow, we believe that the stadium is an iconic London venue and, perhaps more importantly, an enormously valuable part of Waltham Forest’s evening economy.
The success of our leisure venues is an integral part of building a sustainable community in Waltham Forest and ensuring that we are attractive to both our residents and visitors. There is no long-term sustainability in forcing residents out of the borough to spend their leisure time.
I am more than happy to work with Save Our Stow as I believe that ambitious and enterprising local residents and groups deserve to have their ideas listened to and fully considered.
Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Walthamstow
What impressed me about the Save Our Stow proposals was the obvious research that had been undertaken into the viability of the business. A lot of work has gone into securing the means of funding to reopen the track and attracting additional investment to upgrade the facilities and establish Walthamstow as hub for the sport.
I discussed with Save Our Stow my disappointment that a new business model could not, apparently, be made to work by the previous owners in the way it has done at successful greyhound racing venues both in the UK and overseas, where the tracks still enjoy healthy support as family venues with a greater focus on hospitality and catering for parties and group events. It was very encouraging to hear their proposals to modernise and widen the appeal of the Stadium, adapting the facility into a modern leisure facility.
What Walthamstow absolutely cannot afford to have is yet another ‘land bank’ awaiting regeneration.
I am particularly interested in such a user group led bid for the track, as I have long believed that local leisure facilities are very often better run by those who use them and who have a locally based commitment to their ongoing success.