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Council Meeting

The Kennedy Park Saga
by Ian on 11/09/2003

Ian reports on the events at last night's Council Meeting to discuss the Kennedy Park project.

The Kennedy Park Saga - Council Meeting Update

Ian, a regular on the STFC Messageboard attended last night's Council Cabinet Meeting (Wednesday 10 September) and has provided an update on the discussions. It should be noted that the following are the opinions and recollections of Ian and are not necessarily the views or opinions of RebelsOnline:

The meeting was chaired by Rob Anderson (left), Leader of the Council. He invited Chris Spencer, Director of Leartning & Cultural Services to outline the proposals. He referred to the regeneration and specifically the potential of a site in Kennedy Park (KP) for Slough Town FC. He then handed over to Christine Howe, Project Manager for the 'Britwell Scheme' to add further detail.

Christine stated almost immediately that the regeneration of the Britwell area could take place much earlier than planned due to this opportunity, effectively referring to the football club. She also went to great lengths to explain that nothing had been agreed and that any specific plans would only be included if there was "added value for Britwell".

Rob said that of the initial response they have had, 60% of residents are in favour stating that better transport links, recreational areas and social facilities were high on people's agenda's. He then invited questions which is where the fun started! Cllr George Davidson (Labour Chalvey, right) asked how much of the work had already been done and a sense of how much impact on traffic etc. Jon Davies, Head of Leisure stated that "definitely no deal had been done" but they want to take it forward. Christine stated that questions re traffic etc. would form part of public consultation process.

James Swindlehurst (Labour Cippenham, left) commented that the STFC involvement levered the regeneration forward but asked how the council's financial interests would be protected as a private individual (Martyn Deaner) was funding feasibility study. Chris Spencer responded saying that "robust legal agreements" would be in place regarding the feasibility study. George Davidson asked whether "we can all benefit" to which Christine responded saying that there is a requirement that community usage of facilities is embedded in the proposal. Jon Davies added that this could included, for example, a gymnasium attached to the football site that would be accessible by all.

Rob Anderson asked how much of KP would potentially be allocated to the football club and it's commercial venture to which the answer was 13 of the 33 acres that KP and the adjoining wasteland currently covers. Jon Davies went to great lengths to stress "let's get this into context, we're not building another Wembley here". He also added that it was potentially planned to use the wasteland for the football club and the remainder of KP for the recreational purposes.

Pat Shine (Independent Britwellian, right) then handed out a two page document which he started to read which listed all the things he wanted to see as part of the development. Rob Anderson stopped him very quickly stating that this type of information should form part of the consultation process and the meeting was not the right forum to go through a wish list. He then commented that if the development included retail outlets it would cause the shops on Wentworth to close which is effectively "the heart of Britwell". Rob stressed that we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves as we are only currently talking about a feasibility study and nothing had been agreed. He also commented that the Wentworth area was the one in most need of regeneration that this project could then support. Pat Shine responded with a flippant comment suggesting that if he was getting ahead that Rob "should try and keep up". This brought a cheer from the Britwell residents in the Public Gallery although I felt it made Shine look very immature and unprofessional.

Cllr Rajinder Sandhu (Labour Bayliss, left) commented that he was disappointed that the outline proposals were being met with such a negative response saying that it was "the heart of Britwell" which was most in need to regeneration. Pat Shine asked why money could not be allocated to Britwell for regeneration without the football club. Cheryl Coppell, SBC Chief Executive, responded with a very detailed answer explaining the complex process by which you can get Government funds for such a scheme. She commented that of the 119 wards highlighted as deprived (not sure what area that covered) Britwell was not included in those in the Slough area. Stoke and Chalvey were the highest priorities in that respect. Rob Anderson then commented that it is exactly this type of innovative scheme that would potentially get funding rather than just "mending a street light and filling in a couple of pot holes". Without being able to recall the specific dialogue that took place Pat Shine then continued to argue what should and shouldn't be included and Rob, again, stressed that they hadn't even agreed a feasibility stage yet and that was the purpose of the meeting. James Swindlehurst then pointed out that earlier this year Shine had produced a similar list for Britwell which included floodlit sports facilities, precisely the thing he was now complaining about!

Paul Janik (Independent Britwellian) then held up a Labour leaflet asking why this had been the first he had heard of plans to regenerate the area and commented that the Britwellians were being deliberatley excluded. It was pointed out that upto now it has been a Council Cabinet Committee process and that Britwellians were notified at the same time as everyone else who was not part of the Cabinet. George Anderson pointed out that Janik had failed to attend the first meeting so would have seen the leaflets which were posted afterwards as they had taken the time to talk to people regarding their views on the subject. Janik then suggested it was unfair process as "there are 19 of you and only 6 of us" so any proposal would be just pushed through. He also questioned why this potential development was not being offered to anyone other than Deaner. Rob Anderson commented that having financially supported the club for the past five years it was only fair that he was given first refusal. He then bemused everyone by asking "Can you tell me what football club Martyn Deaner has financially supported for the last five years". Rob gave a perplexed look and replied, "err, Slough Town Football Club"! He then started to talk about hotels and specifics of what would be included to which Rob replied, "have I been talking Swahili for the last hour?"! "Nothing has been agreed, we are here to agree whether to conduct a feasibility study".

Tony Haines (left) took his turn (having arrived late) then asking why the club could not develop Wexham Park. Rob commented that this had previously been explored and he (Haines) had been instrumental in blocking it! Eventually, it was agreed by the Cabinet that a feasibility study would be undertaken.

What was very clear is that the Britwellian candidates refuse to accept that there are any positives to this scheme if it involves the football club yet they are totally blind to the fact that it is the only way they will get regeneration on anything approaching this scale. What is also clear is who is pro the football club and this proposal and who is not.

James Swindleshurst, George Davidson, Rob Anderson, Rajinder Sandhu and Cheryl Coppell were all very pro. Pat Shine, Paul Janik and Tony Haines were all anti and not prepared to accept any argument to the contrary. Jean Stockton (Liberal Haymill), Sean Wright (Independent Britwellian) and David Monkley (Liberal Haymill) I felt were all anti but at least willing to listen and follow the process in the correct fashion.

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