Don Valley decision ‘shambolic’

Don Valley Stadium
Don Valley Stadium
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The Friends of Don Valley Stadium are calling for a public inquiry into Sheffield Council’s decision to reject their bid to register the venue as a Community Asset.

The Save Don Valley Stadium group is considering legal action after its bid for a Community Asset Transfer – in which the council would hand over ownership – was turned down.

Rob Creasey, group leader and head coach at Don Valley, said the process had been ‘shambolic’.

“Council leaders have got serious questions to answer. The rejection was full of typographical mistakes and mentions the O2 in London as an ‘alternative venue’. It’s a joke.

“Even the way we were contacted about a decision was bad. We went to the Town Hall for a meeting and were told to go away and wait for an email.

“It was a cynical, political decision from a council who have mismanaged the stadium to the point where they want it destroyed – and destroyed quickly.”

Under government legislation, local residents can take over the running of a council-owned venue if it is considered to be ‘an asset of community value’. But council bosses say the Friends’ bid failed to meet the criteria.

Sportspeople who led the campaign claim there were repeated attempts to thwart their efforts including last-minute demands for information. They are also considering appealing based on the assessment of their application, which appears to offer the O2 in London as an alternative sporting facility.

One section of the council’s response states: “Other venues such as English Institute of Sport and the O2 Stadium are alternative venues.”

Save Don Valley Stadium is due to meet with legal experts to discuss the next step this week.

The campaign group has also raised questions over comments from the council’s director of culture, Paul Billington, over the cost of keeping the venue open.

Mr Billington said: “Keeping this stadium open is costing around £5,000 a week.”

Campaigners say the costs would be covered by the Government for six months while the group comes up with a viable business plan.

But a spokesman for Sheffield Council said: “They simply did not supply the evidence to meet the government’s legislation criteria.”