SAVE OUR STOW PRESS STATEMENT-30 AUGUST 2010

London & Quadrant has now sunk to a new low by questioning a Government Minister and local Member of Parliament of their interpretation of a meeting. L&Q has blatantly accused them of “misunderstanding “. This from a part funded by the tax payer social charity that has misled the whole Borough with ten so-called planning dates that never happened and blaming their ex business partner on the site, Yoo Capital, for  not listening to the residents when it is clearly L&Q that are not listening to the people’s wishes.

It should be remembered that L&Q spent £18.1m of part tax payers’ money on a completely viable greyhound track. They bought it because the previous owners told them that it was non-viable and they mistakenly believed them. L&Q clearly failed in their ‘due diligence’ costing the tax payer millions of pounds. Had they bothered to check with the Greyhound Authorities or investigated the accounts in more detail, they would have found out that the stadium was being run down on purpose for the sole aim of attracting a sale to a development company that would offer them the highest return. Despite the previous owners’ tactics, the business remained wholly viable with the operating profits remaining healthy, albeit being filtered in to the directors’ own pockets via inflated salaries and a financially draining pension scheme that they almost exclusively benefitted from. A complete feasibility study of the greyhound operation was submitted to L&Q as part of Mr Morton’s proposal. It has not been questioned by L&Q.

Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium has operated for 75 years, providing local employment, inward investment to the borough and much needed leisure for the families of the borough and the East End of London in a cost effective way, creating a melting pot regardless of colour or creed for the residents to all mix together in a safe, family friendly environment. Waltham Forest does not have any other facility with the history and heritage that matches the world famous “Stow” and why should the borough give it up?  We have a company that wants to run the Greyhound Stadium in line with the Mayor of London’s” vision for the Stow” and the head of this company is Bob Morton, a Businessman of the highest calibre who could help bring further inward investment in to the borough.

London & Quadrant has never made public their thoughts on the Mayor’s vision nor added them to their website updates. This is completely disrespectful to the Mayor of London but at the same time L&Q carry on with plans which blatantly ignore the Mayor. In line with the Mayor’s vision, Mr Morton has separated the site in to two distinct sections, the Greyhound Racing section and the residential development section. Mr Morton has offered L&Q £4 million for the Greyhound Section of the site alone and has placed a value on the development section of the site of £4-£5m. This equates to Mr Morton’s valuation of the whole site of £8-£9m as reported in the Press. Mr Morton has also budgeted a further 6 million in line with the Mayors vision for the high quality refurbishment for that section of the site which will transform it to a top quality leisure arena that the whole borough can be rightly proud of. L&Q will retain the far side of the site to build about 120 social housing units. In Stella Creasy’s words, a ‘win, win’ situation.

We invite L&Q to have an independent valuation of the site to back up the quote from the director of L&Q that the offer from Mr Morton ‘currently falls so far short of the market value that it fails to merit further consideration’ and to answer the Minister’s questions directly in open press to avoid any “misunderstandings”. Mr Morton’s proposals value the site at between £8-£9m as detailed above.

The Residents of the borough have already voiced their opinion to L&Q on what is wanted on the land by completing L&Q’s Public Consultation questionnaires, which L&Q has never made public because 95% stated they wanted Greyhound Racing on the site even though that option was not even allowed on the form. Such is the feeling in the borough for the return of greyhound racing that the Planning Department of Waltham Forest received 10 times more replies for the Stow to be protected as a greyhound stadium in their ‘Call for Sites’ than any other site in the borough’s history. Saveourstow are joined by various local residents associations such as the Blackhorse Action Group in our campaign to deliver for the site what this borough wants.

MP’s, Councillors, residents associations, SaveOurStow and the residents directly at L&Q’s consultation have told L&Q that Greyhound Racing must be retained at the stadium . The borough will not be hoodwinked by L&Q with” other leisure” on the land. It is a greyhound stadium with a viable use and a company wishes to run it for its current use maintaining employment on the land and returning heritage and an inexpensive night out for the borough’s residents and beyond.

A government minister has already accused L&Q of “not being characteristic of a housing association which is committed to the needs and wishes of the local community”. The Conservative Councillors have accused L&Q of being ‘totally unwilling to even discuss Mr Morton’s offer which would deliver the mixed use, leisure led, scheme that is what people here actually want… they are acting in the worst traditions of avaricious private developers”.

SaveOurStow will today be writing to L&Q’s patron HRH Prince Charles and government departments who fund London & Quadrant and we urge all residents, Councillors, MP’s to join with us on our march against L&Q to be announced shortly.

Finally we call upon L&Q to honour the Mayor’s vision for the Stow and the wishes of local MP’s, councillors and residents by returning to the negotiating table with Bob Morton.

Contact : Rick Holloway : 07913 325674

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