Mr. Perrin’s blog: A Word in Your Ear: Grays Athletic Football Club 2 v Thurrock Borough Council Planning Committee 7

Grays Athletic  Football Club 2 v Thurrock Borough Council Planning Committee 7.

THIS is a case of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

There is merit in the arguments of both sides.

Teresa Webster, Chair of Aveley and Kennington Community Forum, was strongly opposed to the  planning application, submitted by Group 1 Automotive Company , to build a “Pre-delivery Inspection {(PDI) Centre for vehicles on current youth pitches at 6the side of the existing GAFC Stadium.  She robustly defended Aveley residents saying …We do not want it.  There is no benefit to Aveley as a community by the Ship Lane ground gift  to GAFC.  Grays Athletic Football Club belongs in Grays not in Aveley.  The loss of this “green-belt” site would be harmful to the residents of Aveley”.

Julian Sutton, Managing Director of JMS Planning submitting the application on behalf of Group 1 Automotive, told the Planning Committee that, Group 1 Automotive had offered to “gift” the football stadium to GAFC as their new home but with a 50/50 split for community football use.  In addition Group 1 Automotive were proposing number of additional benefits for local residents, including an additional £500,000 for football facilities in Belhus Woods Country Park and transport infrastructure and that there would also be a further £50,000 for highways issues on the approach to the town saying “Many of us know that Ship Lane in Aveley has a traffic problem”.

The Planning Committee rejected the application by a majority of 7 against and 2 for.

However, it was not just the pros and cons of the application that concerned me, it was the utter indifference of some Councillors to the long term problems of Grays Athletic Football Club in their quest to find a permanent “home”for the Club.

I was appalled at the supercilious attitude of Cllr Angela Lawrence who said: “This is a “carrot and stick”, trying to entice people to support them because a lot of people like the football club, They (GAFC) sold their own ground . Why didn’t they go out and get another one rather than wait for one to be handed to them?”

Grays Athletic Football Club leased the ground, so when it was sold by the owners, for development, GAFC were made “homeless”.  Had Cllr Lawrence bothered to do a bit of research she would have been aware  that GAFC were not paid a penny from the sale.

I can only conclude that Ms Lawrence made her remarks in ignorance of the facts, or she was being deliberately mischievous, implying that GAFC had squandered the money.  Which ever it was she should be thoroughly ashamed of herself, as also should Cllr Fletcher and Cllr Potter who, I observed, were nodding enthusiastically in agreement.

I am especially disappointed with Cllr Fletcher.

I suspect the posturing of Councillors has more to do with one eye on the Local Government Elections on 6 May 2021.  

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