Statement – Capital & Regional and the Luton News

STATEMENT FROM LUTON TOWN FC SUPPORTERS’ GROUPS:

CAPITAL & REGIONAL AND THE LUTON NEWS

 

As the voice of many Luton Town fans – and Lutonians – Luton Town Supporters’ Trust and Loyal Luton Supporters Club have reached the point where we cannot believe a word said by Mall owners Capital & Regional (C&R)…and we are astonished and angered by the stance being taken by the Luton News, too, after the ludicrous events of the last week.

First of all, C&R put forward a “back of a fag packet” vision for the future of Luton town centre, which would be laughable if it was not such a vital issue for the community and the next generations.

It has taken C&R ten years to come up with this so-called ‘vision’ for the town. Or maybe it was ten minutes? The ‘plans’ are so badly drafted and ill-considered that streets are incorrectly named, land developed which C&R does not own – and a tower block has appeared from nowhere, presumably replacing yet another demolished town centre car park; could this be “yuppie” flats like the ones C&R wants to build over the town square in Walthamstow against the wishes of the local community? It is also not clear whether C&R wish to destroy listed buildings as they suggested some years ago. You might almost think the designer had never been to the town, let alone lived here – yet they are claiming it as a vision for our future.

C&R has yet to discuss these so called plans with the Council and there is no planning application. There is also no sign of the urban park on the Power Court site in Luton promised by C&R just a year ago.  The good news is that C&R’s child-like ‘planning project’ does include glimpses of a football stadium in the distance. But as C&R knows this will be funded by the Newlands Park development.

It is no coincidence that this lazy, laughable vision for Luton emerged just hours before the final deadline for comments on 2020’s plans to regenerate the town through the Power Court and Newlands Park developments. It is, after all, their stated policy to try and ‘kick the plans into the long grass’ for as long as they can, and this is yet another of their delaying tactics.

C&R has enjoyed its dominance in the town centre, with a lack of any competition for The Mall and the profits it has milked from its cash cow – without any significant investment – for many years. During this period C&R has done nothing to develop the empty and derelict site at Power Court, or the ugly parcels of land around The Mall.

The Mall owners also close off (and more or less kill off) the entire centre of the town every evening by locking the doors for the night. C&R’s only agenda now is to protect its dominant position in Luton; a position it has abused, leading to dire stagnation which can only be reversed by the exciting regeneration proposed by 2020 Developments (Power Court and Newlands Park).

Secondly this week, our local newspaper, The Luton News, chose to ignore the fact that C&R, a London and Johannesburg property business, which paid no corporation tax last year, is doing everything it can to block plans for a massive regeneration of a town which regularly tops the UK’s “crap towns” list. Instead it took a cheap shot at “football supporters” who it labelled “a vocal minority” challenging the newspaper’s failure to investigate what is really happening.

The Luton News ignores the fact that 11,000 people supported plans for a new stadium in the town at Power Court, funded by a development at Newlands Park. This compares to the 400 or so comments on Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium development in London, now nearly completed.

Our two local MPs, most of our councillors, all parts of the local community, including Discover Islam and other faith groups, local businesses and organisations like BID, the Chamber of Commerce and the Bury Park Business Forum, sports clubs, celebrities, and Luton organisations across the board all support the plans.

  • Has the newspaper actually read the comments on the #saveourtown social media pages?
  • Does it realise what an incredible positive force the football club is in the town and outside the town?
  • Is it not interested in 10,000+ new jobs and an injection of £250million a year into the local economy?
  • On what basis does the Luton News believe that it is just “a vocal minority of football supporters” who are challenging what appears in the newspaper when there is overwhelming community opposition to C&R and support for PC and NP?

Instead of asking why this is happening and what tactics are being employed by C&R to delay the plans, the current Editor of our local newspaper refuses to investigate claims of ‘dirty tricks’ by C&Rs PR company, who are connected to malpractices exposed by both the London Evening Standard and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme….malpractices which are focussed on planning applications. Most people would, it is fair to say, see an important story in that!

Does the Editor – not a Lutonian by the way but happy to challenge the right of Luton born and bred people to voice their support for the 2020 plans, just because they no longer live in the town they love – have any idea what C&R’s real agenda is? Does the newspaper know who it is really dealing with? Does it care?

This is a disgrace for a newspaper with such a great history and which lives on its status as providing “trusted news since 1891.” It also makes nonsense of the claim by Johnston Press, owners of the newspaper, that its newspapers promise “to campaign on behalf of the communities we serve and be their voice.”

This is our town. Not yours C&R. And Luton News, it is time for you to stand up for the Luton you supposedly represent, and its communities, and support the regeneration we need and all want.  This isn’t just about football, this is about the whole town.

Tony Murray, Chair Luton Town Supporters’ Trust

Mark Bradbury, Chair Loyal Luton Supporters Club

Comments

  1. Michael Pattinson says:

    Luton desperately needs the economic impacts of Power Court and Newlands as well as the regeneration of the town center from Power Court and shopping upgrades from Newlands. A pity the Luton News can not see this.

  2. Rita Hogarth says:

    I quite agree with everything that has been said. I am a Lutonian and I think we are in desperate need of a new stadium. Somewhere where I would feel safe to go and support Luton again.

  3. Patrick morgan says:

    Fully endorse your comments but would like to k ow why the council have delayed and delayed the plans unless they have been waiting in expectation.of this garbage from c&r
    Only a cursory glance shows the lack
    of substance or depth

  4. If C & R hold such sway what are our elected councillers doing on our behalf ?.Can money buy what you want in Luton? You’re elected by the people for the people so lets hear from Gavin Shuker a supporter of Power Court .What has he got to say about a consortium of businessmen ruining our town centre for profit for the second time in 45 years ?

  5. Richard Impey says:

    Brilliant piece, hoping that the Council Planning Officer/s see through this desperate delaying tactic for what it is.

  6. Chris Caswell says:

    Come on Luton News get on board, it time to Save Our Town.
    Get behind this positive and much needed development, the town’s people deserve so much more than you sitting on the fence while C&R endlessly play for time. Let’s lift Luton up out of the mire together, it’s what everyone needs, Save Our Town.

  7. Although I live in Biggleswade, I worked in Luton for a number of years and am a past season ticket holder at KR.
    I fully endorse everything has been said above and would add that Johnston Press, also owner of Biggleswade Chronicle, has less and less knowledgable in it concerning the local communities but relying on agency pieces that require no journalistic work at all. Bearing this in mind it is no wonder the Luton News does not even understand the problems but supports the corporation it probably obtains income from

  8. I’d not be surprised to find that money is behind the Luton News’ inaction. C&R/The Mall must provide a decent amount of revenue to the paper with advertising etc…Don’t bite the hand that feeds you springs to mind…

  9. Vincent Mitchell says:

    I agree completely with everything that has been said as regards our Town centre and the Mall. C&R have not put any investment into either areas, they have in effect let the good people of this Town down and treated all of us as second class citizens. At last the citizens of this Town of ours have spoken and also our elected representatives and they have made it quite clear that C&R should butt out and give the people what they deserve. I have to say that I am so disappointed that it has taken the Council over two years to get the planning permission that is so urgently required.
    As for the Luton News, they have for whatever reason are speaking against the community who have supported them for many a year – I am so disappointed in their stance.

  10. Evidently someone at the top in Johnson press has investments else ware .Luton News is slowly loosing its readership and now you know why it has become self serving with no regard for the people of Luton Town.

  11. This makes my blood boil ! The Media are very influential at telling people how to think ( & vote !! ) when the Murdock papers got behind Labour they won, when they turned against them …. you get the picture !! )
    I have a sneaky feeling that a certain minority who own or at least controll most western newspapers, a lot of TV , a n unproportionate amount of massive financial institutions ,corpora\tions etc etc with very powerfull lobby groups & more often than not elected government officials worldwide, may have a finger in this pie ?

    They are totally unscrupulous and amoral ,money & power are their Gods , communities are there to serve them .

    I desperately hope I am wrong , but if I am not then we have a very very powerfull adversary !

    But People power can be even more powerfull.

    Evil flourishes when good men do nothing !

    How about a campaign to threaten to boycott the Luton News & the Mall unless they stop fighting the overall majority of Lutonians !

    That should scare them !! People power , Social media posts can generate a storm, they can’t controll that !

    We have suffered 50 years of such selfish minority interests blocking multiple attempts for a new stadium.

    Enough is enough , our hour has come .

    People of Luton rise up & fight via social media & if need be boycotts , PROFITS & REPUTATION are what they covet, hit them hard where it hurts !

  12. John Martin says:

    Brilliant piece and I agree with all it’s contents. I’m afraid it won’t be long til there’ll be no local newspapers left. If only C&R and their ilk could disappear too. Save our town.

  13. Steve Emmett says:

    I have supported Luton for over 55 years and we have cried out for a new stadium for years. I have lived in Luton for over 30 years and what we need is a re generation of the town centre. What has been proposed is a resolution for both issues which includes new jobs , and a significant investment. Against all of this we have C&R with no ideas , no sense and a lack of any substance in anything they say. What we now need is for the elected representatives / local politicians to see through this and support the Power Court / Newlands project and turn Luton into a place that we can be proud of and that stand amongst the best of their kind in the country. Failure to act will turn Luton into a ghost town, surely common sense must prevail.

  14. I entirely agree with these statements. Anyone with any sense knows that C&Rs priorities are to protect their business and maximise profits.
    I am sure that the council planners and councilors know exactly what their game is. They are so transparent and each time they make statements or rush out a glossy vision document with pretty pictures just before deadlines it just reinforces their lack of thought, planning and real foresight and it also exposes their obvious intentions. If C&R REALLY cared for our town they would have invested in it over the last decade, not implying future commitment as a reaction to competition.
    The council are going through a long and comprehensive process to demonstrate proper independence of the planning process and ensure they cannot be criticised for not following it.
    This of course is frustrating, but I would sooner wait for the full process to be completed properly rather than rush it and give C&R ammunition and an excuse to say due process was not followed.
    The reason why C&R are rushing this stuff out is because they realise they are losing the battle and people see them for what they are attempting and for who they are.
    Keep the faith and saveourtown.
    I’m sure the right result will come out of the planning process despite certain money grabbing protectionist antics of C&R.

  15. Martin Gilbert says:

    C&r are from London not Luton and how can they say they have Luton’s residents at heart when clearly over 11,000 have backed luton town consortium 2020 in the proposal of Newlands Park and power court developments which are proposed for the re generation of a town that has been on a downward spiral for years and everything is getting neglected . This will create jobs for the unemployed reducing the unemployed Numnbers now isn’t that for the government to get people back to work reducing the numbers out of work ? Well we need to get 2020 proposal up and running and build Newlands Park and power court and c&r need to butt out of the Luton residents and regeneration of Luton we should all boycott the Arndale (the mall) then they can see the power of Luton’s residents and commitment for regeneration of our town let’s see how long the mall and more particularly c&r last then and see them change there swan song so come on let’s boycott the mall

  16. Martyn Wells says:

    I’m a Lutonian born and bred, the Luton News ( and Bedfordshire Advertiser as it was when my paper round took longer to complete on Thursday) was a locally owned and edited journal you could trust, alas no more.
    C&R are employing ever trick in the book to delay the new stadium, and probably will come up with a few more !
    Enough is enough, let us all push hard for the redevelopment of our town to make it once again a place of which Lutonian’s young and old, new or long term, can be justly proud .

  17. Frederick Painter says:

    Thank heavens for the professionalism of 2020 Developments, as it is clear that the case they have presented through the planning application is likely to prevail, despite the dirty tricks campaign by C&R and the lack of scrutiny and professionalism displayed by the local press which claims to have the best interest of the local community at heart.

    It does however look as if the planning application will be referred by the Council to the Secretary of State, meaning further delays before the correct decision is given.

    We will see a new dawn for our Town and communities which will make Luton a vibrant and cohesive lace to live.

  18. Iain Funnell says:

    Well done, great piece, people need to see the facts spelled out like this. The town is so desperately in need of regeneration and C&R are clearly only interested in their own profit and have no respect for the people of Luton. I hope the council can finally be brave and do what is right and grant consent for both delevlopments. We’ve waited too long already and to have the football club at the centre of this as a key player in the local community is great. I remember going to Kenelworth road in 1978 as a seven year old and there were people collecting money for a new stadium back then, please let’s make this happen!

  19. Robert Hill says:

    Well done LTST.
    Spot on in highlighting the perverse position of C&R and even more sadly, the Luton News. Remember that advertisers come and go, but your community is the foundation for any true newspaper or local media provider.

  20. Having lived in Luton for the best part of 63 years I am absolutely dismayed with the shocking behaviour of C&R as well as the total lack of foresight, vision and urgency shown by the council and planning officers. The town is crying out for total regeneration, It appears that they have not got the ability to handle such a fantastic, regenerative plan for the town. All they seem to be able to manage is approving applications for cheap pound shops, charity shops or boarding up derelict buildings. Come on Luton Council, wake up and give us something we can all be proud of as the town is rapidly becoming a ghetto!

  21. Steve Gaunt says:

    The owners of the Mall do not see that on match days the town will be full of supporters wanting restaurants to eat in, pubs to have a drink in, and in some cases will even go shopping before a game. It will lift the mood of what can only be described as a very glum town centre and lift a town so badly in need of regeneration.

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