Kettering Borough Council should give serious consideration to plans to lease or sell Council-owned land to Kettering Town Football Club, say local Liberal Democrats, giving the team – which has been without a home of their own since 2011 – a permanent ground at Weekley Glebe, just to north of Kettering.
They currently use a ground share at Latimer Park in Burton Latimer.
A meeting of Liberal Democrat members unanimously voted yesterday evening (Wednesday) to support, in principle, the plan for a new stadium to be built on Weekley Glebe, with access from Stamford Road and close to the planned Weekley-Warkton bypass. It is also suggested that the existing community sports pitches to be replaced on Frenches Field, a site unsuitable for housing, safeguarding this space for the community. Supporters claim that, if the land were released by the Council, the rest of the scheme could be financed by the Football Club. The move has been spearheaded by independent councillor Michael Brown with growing cross party support.
Chris Nelson, Vice Chair of Kettering and Wellingborough Liberal Democrats, commented: “Kettering Borough Council has prevaricated for years on how to help the Football Club, a source of real pride to the community, and finally they have a chance to make a real contribution without any major costs to Council finances.”
“Of course the final deal should make sure there is sufficient parking, looks after local residents and the club makes a plan to provide wider community benefits, but there is absolutely no reason to vote down this call for a feasbility study,” said Mr Nelson. “It is now put up or shut up time for councillors like Philip Hollobone who claim to support the Football Club!”
“This proposal seems like a win-win for the people of Burton Latimer,” added Liberal Democrat town councillor Jenny Davies. “Burton people have told me clearly that they support their football club and want it to have a home, but also that they are sick of the parking chaos that currently happens on Polwell Lane and Station Road on match days.”
“If this turns out to be a viable option, not only will fans welcome the Poppies having a permanent future but will be delighted to have their roads back!”
APPENDIX: Text of motion passed by Kettering and Wellingborough Liberal Democrats Annual General Meeting
Kettering and Wellingborough Liberal Democrats notes with concern the predicament of Kettering Town Football Club which has been without a permanent ground since 2011 and believes that, where possible, the club should have a ground within the Borough of Kettering.
We further note that the proposal from independent Cllr Michael Brown to ask Kettering Borough Council to lease or sell to the football club land it owns at Weekley Glebe and Frenches Field and believe that this could provide a viable option for the future.
We call for Kettering Borough Council to initiate a serious feasibility study into the use of this land for this purpose and we support this idea in principle, subject to a successful planning application which adequately handles issues such as parking, traffic, green space and ensuring that the club produce a plan to provide wider community benefits in return for their use of the site.
We further call for steps to be taken to ensure that the funding model for Kettering Town Football Club is sustainable, avoiding the poor financial practice seen in Northampton, and strongly urge the Football Club to consider a crowdfunding model to ensure that ordinary football fans have a say in the future of their football club.