Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has agreed to meet Stella Creasy MP after his first ever greyhound question in Parliament – quote from House of Commons on Thursday.
 Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op): Supporters Direct has not just been helping fan involvement in football clubs; it has also been advising on the bid for the Walthamstow dog track and helping to involve the community in that. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can help to promote fan involvement, not only in football but in a range of other sports?
Hugh Robertson: That is the first question I have ever had on dog racing, but it will not be the last. In the circumstances, probably the best thing to say is that I would be delighted to meet the Hon. Lady to hear more about this.
The Sports and Olympics Minister later sent the local MP a letter offering to support Supporters Direct – an organisation involved with Bob Morton’s bid for Walthamstow greyhound stadium – and encouraged their involvement with the dog track and community ownership. Hugh Robertson also wished Bob Morton good luck with his exciting plans.
This is another major blow for L&Q, who tried earlier to hoodwink the council and residents that Sport England supported their leisure element for the stadium – which was later exposed as untrue. The stadium must have a substantial leisure element under local planning law, but clearly an allotment and four rooms in a building called a leisure centre would fail woefully under planning. And in any case, local leisure centres are well catered for nearby for local residents.
Greyhound racing is the fourth largest sport in the country, and recent turnover figures show that the sport is on the increase – with a million surplus in funding. Along with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s support of Walthamstow stadium’s viability, L&Q must surely face the inevitable and admit they have no support from any Government department – and no chance of obtaining a change of use for the greyhound track. L&Q has now also directly set itself up in direct opposition to Parliament, which funds them.
Being an Olympic Borough, Chris Robbins (leader of the council) should be delighted that the Sports and Olympic minister is supporting the return of the iconic “Stow” for the residents of his borough – the only attraction that brings many thousands of visitors to his borough. We invite Chris to make a statement thanking the minister for supporting his local Labour MP and his party ethics on community ownership.
It must also be of comfort to the council that Bob Morton has pledged to have the stadium up and running by the start of the Olympics, so that one of the most iconic sites inEast Londonwill not lie in ruins and be further embarrassment for the borough during the Games. It was always clear that such a great site was never going to be turned into a housing estate by a council who would be committing commercial suicide for the sake of only 30 affordable houses now.