LTST Programme Notes

We have had a regular slot in the LTFC matchday programme this season with the latest space being in the Cheltenham edition on Saturday. We used the slot to provide a strong message. Read below for the notes in full.

 

Luton Town Supporters Trust say…

Come on Luton Borough Council – give the people what they’ve asked for!

‘It’s nearly two years since a record 11,000 emails and letters were sent to LBC supporting Power Court and Newlands Park – why are we still waiting for a decision?’

Here at the Trust – and out and about in town, and at games – we are bombarded with questions about one thing: ‘What’s happening with Power Court and Newlands Park? Why hasn’t there been a decision yet?’. They’re questions we’d dearly love an answer for too and they come not from just Luton Town fans but from right across all the Luton communities, and beyond. People know the Trust are involved and they want to know what’s going on and why there have been such long delays.

What Power Court and Newlands Park will bring to the town is exactly what the people want. Progress. Pride. A new face. Jobs. Inward investment.  We’re confident that Luton Borough Council want that too – but we need to see it happening, and soon!

People’s frustrations have been building up towards the point of anger and the situation wasn’t helped when Gary Sweet’s programme notes for the last home game attracted a rather disappointing and confusing statement from the Luton Borough Council.

So we thought we’d take this opportunity to try and clear a few things up and clarify what the Trust’s position is, as the official representatives of you, the fans, and shareholders in the club we all love.

Our relationship with 2020 and the club is tremendous, and they keep us right up to date with what’s happening on a regular basis. They’ve assured us that their relationship with the council is sound, professional and mutually respectful. But that doesn’t alter in any way the fact that these delays have been going on too long.

When the council replied to this point by Gary: “…there is very little now we can possibly answer given that everything should now have been reviewed in detail, other than one small but important final document which can only be issued once everything else has been.” with “they (2020) still need to submit to us about the funding for the two schemes’ we got a glimpse of the Catch 22 situation which is in danger of developing. The council say they still need some paperwork; the club say it can’t be provided until they (LBC) have completed their own technical assessments. LBC also dropped a bit of a bombshell when they stated: This funding assessment, along with a final technical report, need to be reviewed by independent experts. We expect that this will take about a month and assuming these outstanding matters are addressed, we should be in a position at the end of April to announce the date of the special Development Control meeting where the applications will be considered.’

Hold on council, what on earth have you been doing? We were told by your good selves that we could expect a decision by December 2017 – you’re now talking about considering the applications in April 2018???

That was the last straw for many people and the council statement drew a flood of angry responses on Facebook and elsewhere.

Yes, we know it’s a complicated application and yes we all want it to be watertight so it goes through unchallenged. And we also know that the ‘elephant in the room’ is Capital & Regional, who operate The Mall and who have taken it upon themselves to oppose the applications in any way they can, with their then-officer Ken Ford threatening to ‘kick them into the long grass’ and defy the clear will of the Luton public – their own customers – for as long as possible. They’re the villains of the piece of course and one of the reasons why the plans have to be so meticulously thorough that they can’t be challenged by C&R on a technical point. (They can’t be opposed on a commercial basis, but we all know that C&R’s real objection is a commercial one, based on the supposed negative impact of Newlands Park. They call it a retail park – when it never has been planned as such but as mixed usage of hotels, offices, leisure and some non-competitive retail. Shame on you, Capital & Regional for treating the town which has been so profitable for you with such utterly cynical disdain!).

BUT in the time since 2020 first submitted its plans, we’ve seen numerous major projects in the town approved by the Council and building get under way. The Airport’s Mass Transport System was approved in just 4 months and Napier Park was submitted two months before 2020’s plans but was positively determined over a year ago.  

We’ve seen other football club’s stadium plans be approved – despite them not having the overwhelming public support which 2020’s attracted. Chelsea’s equally complex application, for instance, received approval in January – fourteen months after submission.

Now, thanks to this continued prevarication, the club are unable to go to the prestigious MIPIM networking conference in Cannes – where the plans sensationally scooped two highly respected architecture awards – with the planning permission which may well have enabled them to form invaluable partnerships.  Such a disappointment. Who knows what impact these endless delays are having.

Do we really want C&R to have their way and leave us with a town full of ‘Pound Stores & Eyesores’? No, Luton councillors, we do not – so please, please get on with it – people’s patience is running out, and don’t forget you depend on their votes. We don’t want you to become seen as the bad guys in this, and we know you’re not…but you’re in danger of being seen that way!

So, what can you do?

As the Supporters Trust we say: Keep your eyes open, don’t let the council delay further and we’ll keep you updated with what constructive action you might want to take when appropriate.

In the meantime, if you’re not already a member of the Trust please join us as we fans seek to give the club our full support in making a massive and essential step forward….for the whole town of Luton and its communities.

Visit www.lutontownsupporterstrust.com to join today.

Please note: We would like to make it absolutely clear that whilst this article is being published in the Club’s match day programme it is our article (LTST) and is written independently of the Club itself. We are representing the frustrations and angst of the supporters and residents, i.e. the voting public.

Tony Murray, Chairman, Luton Town Supporters Trust

 

(panel)

Some of the Facebook responses to LBC’s statement….

Please note: names have been removed to respect privacy

I have to say this is a joke, other clubs for instance Tottenham have built new grounds in a far more populated area and without the time taken by our council. You don’t have the money to regenerate the town and when someone offers to do it for you and the town as a whole you drag your feet and once again make the town a laughingstock. Wake up and make a decision after all that’s what you get paid to do by the people of this town who deserve so much more than you give them.

Surely the council must realise that them delaying the decision could ultimately effect the funding & cost the town the biggest boost in its history! How’s about the council do what’s in the best interests of the town & like you would in the private sector, work a bit harder, meet more regularly & get the job done!!!

Sooner it’s built the quicker the town’s image will improve. Nearly 2 years it’s taken since the plans were submitted, absolute joke. The stadium plans already have won international awards and you still holding back

I bet the decision on building all over Wigmore Valley Park won’t take anything like as long. But then, that’s the council applying to itself for planning permission, so it was always going to be a done deal

Appreciate the response and update, but this is simply not good enough. Nearly 2 years waiting on this decision, a decision that benefits the town and its residents .No worries though, I’m sure the developments that you’re really interested in like Century Park, will be approved in no time.

This is not good enough. You have responded because you have been criticised for your lack of candour. Shameful.

Sounds like more promised dates of meetings to arrange more meetings, to discuss future meetings. Clear as mud.

LBC you state you are 100% behind the club to find a new ground….if it was just the ground then …would it be all done and dusted?…..2020 have also done more for the town in these applications then anything that has gone before…..a complete game changer for the whole community…..what has the Mall done to the town centre since being built? Just a huge concrete carbuncle that shuts for nighttime…leaving just an empty carcass of a town centre.

 

There are lots more where those come from! We don’t necessarily agree with everything written, but these few examples indicate the strength of feeling about the delays.

Enough is enough, LBC – you say: The council has been committed to finding the Club a suitable location for a new stadium for a long time and if LTFC’s plans were to be approved by the independent planning committee, the developments would positively transform a derelict and unsightly piece of land and an undeveloped site, creating new jobs and opportunities for local people.’  So COME ON, MAKE A DECISION!

Comments

  1. Peter Atkinson says:

    I think if LBC still have a ‘problem’ or ‘issue’ regarding the two planning applications, why can’t they come out and make it known just exactly WHAT the problem is? Surely this way, at least, it might make everybody awaiting the outcome of the above planning applications a little more ‘tolerant’ of the above wait, and people will know ‘exactly’ just what is happening!

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