Today both the Labour Group of local Councillors and the Liberal Democrats have issued clear statements about their position on the future of the Stow. Deputy leader of the council, Liberal Democrat John Macklin has supported the campaign from the start, as has Walthamstow Labour MP Neil Gerrard (and the prospective Labour MP Stella Creasy), however, until now the position of the Labour Party Councillors has been unclear. The parties two statements are below:
LABOUR (from Cllr Adam Gladstone)
Waltham Forest Labour group are very disappointed that a development company, T. P. Bennett and London & Quadrant Housing Association have decided to start a public consultation about their plans for a housing development on the site of the Walthamstow dog track. Whilst there is a significant need for affordable housing in the borough there is also a need for leisure facilities.
We are pleased that there are still leisure options being put forward for the dog track and it is important that these are fully explored. Therefore we are calling on TP Bennett and London & Quadrant Housing Association to put on hold their planning application for a housing development so that these leisure options can be further explored.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS (From Deputy Council Leader John Macklin)
Since the closure of the iconic dog track and Walthamstow landmark Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have supported the Save Our Stow plans to retain and update the stadium to provide a modern greyhound-racing venue whilst using part of the land around the site for development in order to provide housing. Liberal Democrats welcome this proposal which
is in line with the trend for mixed leisure and housing developments used at many modern sports venues.
Waltham Forest Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr John Macklin, said:
“Whilst we’re acutely aware that Waltham Forest needs affordable houses it must not be at the expense of what little lesuire facilities we have left. We have lost too many leisure facilities in this borough and despite promises no worthwhile developments have taken place.”
Cllr Macklin added: “I am unhappy that this development is being proposed when I have worked so hard with the Save our Stow campaigners to get London and Quadrant to talk to a group that want to develop the site so that dog racing may return.”
“I had hoped that a suitable bid from those interested in opening this site for dog racing could be bought forward and I want these proposals delayed.”
Cllr Bob Belam also raised concerns saying: “We seem to be bringing plans forward for more houses without thinking about our need for infrastructure such as schools and medical facilities. Not far from the Dog Track we are faced with the loss of another facility with plans to close the Pool and Track with plans to build more houses”
Cllr John Macklin further concluded: “We must ensure Waltham Forest does not build a mass of housing with no amenities or heritage. 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.”