Saturday, 12 May 2012

we should grab the Stadium for Cornwall opportunity with both hands

As a Pirates fan I watch with growing incredulity the progress of the Stadium for Cornwall planning process. At stake is the future of sport in Cornwall and in particular the ambitious clubs of Truro City football club and the Cornish Pirates rugby club. Both have seen a phenomenal rise through the leagues from small amateur clubs to fully professional sporting teams, bringing quality sport to Cornwall and providing opportunities here in Cornwall for our young talent to ply their trade. A Stadium for Cornwall would provide an excellent opportunity for this progress to continue, providing not only further trade and hospitality for Truro and Threemilestone but also cultivating pride in Cornwall and proving we can compete in the highest realms of sport. I think Sportva Kernow -to give it it's Cornish game- is a great idea, Cornwall unfortunately is very unique, even backward, in not having modern sporting facilities, whilst most English counties have numerous stadiums we have none, I believe this needs to change. I am not alone in thinking the stadium would be a great idea, sixteen thousand people have signed a petition calling for it.

Despite the obvious benefits of the stadium to Cornwall, many politicians do not support the idea. There have been various arguments made such as, "how would the location effect Truro airfield?" "how would the traffic and public transport infrastructure cope with more traffic?" "is Truro the best location?" "is a sizable development that size appropriate for Langarth/ Threemilestone?" To varying degrees these are all valid arguments and problems to be addressed and solved. This in a nutshell is the biggest problem facing government in Cornwall: How do we address problems find compromise and achieve things? It really puzzles me that developments like supermarkets seem to get planning permission at the drop of a hat, often in the face of little or no political opposition. Take for example Sainsbury's in Penzance, even before the heliport found a new home the council waved through permission leaving the helicopter service in limbo and giving Penzance yet another supermarket within a stones throw of Tesco's and Morrison's. Then there's Hayle it is now very likely a supermarket will be built on the quay, this despite the fact such a construction could cause the whole World Heritage Status to be lost to Cornwall. As well as these unique factors, there are others just like the stadium i.e. traffic, suitability. Yet there is a distinct lack of political opposition to these developments and a lack of public support for them. But there are no councillors resigning from their party jobs over the issue, there aren't scores of councillors blogs or news headlines, yet there is with the stadium.

The question of whether it is wrong or right for the council to invest £10 million pounds in the project is a thorny one. There are equally valid arguments for and against such a proposal, whether the money is found though loans, out of budgets or reserves or through capital spending funds, there is debate. However from my perspective, I think that the lesson I have taken from the Penzance harbour fiasco is that if opportunities are not taken when they are presented we lose out. With any major scheme there will be detractors, I am sure there were people arguing against the University Campus at Tremough in Penryn for really valid reasons  and if they had been listened to and let sway the judgement then we would not have that facility in Cornwall. Neither the University nor the harbour plans are the same as the stadium for Cornwall but we need to bear in mind what happened in these cases. I sincerely hope that Cornwall's councillors do think long and hard about the prospect of funding a stadium and I do hope they have foremost in their mind that not funding some of the project may well see this great opportunity pass Cornwall by. They only need to look to Truro City and the Cornish Pirates and see that risk taking and being bold and can pay great dividends and the only quality needed is ambition.

The cost of the scheme progressing may well be £10 million pounds but what is the cost to Cornwall and to sports fans and players if the scheme does not progress?


7 comments:

  1. "I think that the lesson I have taken from the Penzance harbour fiasco is that if opportunities are not taken when they are presented we lose out."

    Worth bearing in mind that if the Penzance harbour 'Option A' scheme had gone ahead, Cornwall Council had undertaken to borrow £15 million to invest in that project and may not have been in a position to consider the stadium now.

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    1. Its a very good point anon, I would have thought that the harbour money has been reassigned, but I see your point

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  2. Here are my thoughts on how the whole sorry affair is being handled...

    http://www.falmouthpeople.co.uk/Stadium-Cornwall-Cornwall-Council-fund/story-16063163-detail/story.html

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    1. Could you respost the link please it doesn't seem to work and I'm very interested to read what you have to say.

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  3. Can't agree with the stadium for Cornwall. It really should be called the Pirates stadium. It's a pity that 16,000 people who have signed the petition don't turn up to the matches. The money should only come from the private sector. The stadium would only benefit the realtivly small number of supporters. Money for shorts would be better placed into the communities far and wide in Cornwall. I think that somone from Bude,Launceston or Saltash and those areas would get little use from it. I honestly feel that the reason that we don't have a stadium is because we don't need one. I think before the council uses some of my money to give to the Pirates I'd rather see a hospital that works and not near the bottom of the list of NHS hospitals throught the UK. Sorry and all that. PS used to follow the Pirates myself even prior to them changing their name but when I said I didn't think the stadoum should be paid for by the rate payer and the petition should mention this fact I was so verbally abused by certainly people I stopped going and saved myself a few thousand.

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    1. I'm sorry you feel that way Nick. As to your comment about the number of signatories and match attendences, I think that goes to show that support for the stadium is very widespread and not entirely confined to the supporters of the Cornish Pirates and Truro City. I think you're wrong about the limited benefits of the stadium, there are obvious economic benefits to having thousands of sports fans spending money. As well there's a lot of pride and prestige for the people of Cornwall to see our sportsmen and women competeing at the top levels of sport.

      It's a very fair point about the benefits to the South East, North and indeed far south and west of Cornwall. That's our geography we are widely spread here in Cornwall as such there is no compromise that would suit everyone everywhere as to the location of a stadium. For me I don't think this is a valid argument to say no to a stadium in Truro. In the same way I don't think it was unfair on the west that the Eden Project was built in Bodelva. We'd have all liked all those millions to have been spent on our doorstep but we have to except that in Cornwall not everything can be on our doorstep.

      I'm very sad to hear that you were verbally abused, I presume you mean at a Pirates game. I have never seen any such behavior at a Pirates game or in fact at any rugby game, i think this kind of thing is wholly unacceptable, did you inform the marshalls?

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  4. Hi Rob

    It was more on the forum and then once on the train down. I just asked where the money was coming from and how could it make the money to run it. I'm not against a stadium for the Pirates but don't use my money to build it. If there is going to be £10 million then spend it on updating the sports centres and sports facilities in general around the Duchy so that people all over can have access to them and not just one place which for many will be of no use at all. I also think that if you said to many of the people who signed the petition that they would be helping to pay for it through their taxes then they might not be so enthusiastic.

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