Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Southend United's new stadium - a further problem?

I could not avoid a wry smile at seeing the recent Echo headline “New doubt over Southend United’s stadium plan”.

The reason for the doubt is apparently that due to the ongoing delays Southend Council would have to reconsider the exercise of compulsory purchase powers over the old Prospects College – a wholly reasonable stance in my view. I hate to make a statement of the obvious but if the scheme was dependent on a potentially contested CPO process the inevitable delay would be likely to scupper the plan anyway.

I am sure that we are all tiring of this saga which was in the pipeline when I became Leader seven and a half years ago and still seemed stuck in that same pipeline when I stepped down notwithstanding the many hours of council member and officer time spent in trying to help put together what is a very complex and demanding jigsaw.

I see that Leader Cllr Ron Woodley could not resist his usual photo call and comment but was a little surprised by his view which was quoted as including this gem “If we don’t get Sainsbury’s and the football club driving it forward then maybe it’s time the council bought the land and developed it.” I am not sure how this strategy fits with his borrowing adverse stance or how he thinks this declaration would help in a possible subsequent CPO (whether for the benefit of Sainsburys or the Council), but is he really suggesting that this would facilitate the new stadium and supermarket or block it. It must surely be the latter.

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