Lib Dem leader back Sheffield Wednesday fans' bid to protect Hillsborough Stadium for the community
The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Sheffield has backed an attempt by fans to give Hillsborough Stadium protected status to help preserve it for the community.
The Star reported earlier this year how the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Trust (SWST) is attempting to get the ground recognised by Sheffield Council as an asset of community value (ACV).
If successful, the community would have to be informed should the owners try to sell the stadium and would get six months in which to pull together the funds to make an offer should they wish. The ACV status would also have to be considered as part of any future planning application.
There is no threat of the historic ground being sold as it stands but the supporters behind the bid believe ACV status would add provide greater security should things change, especially with football finances gloabally being in such a volatile state.
Sheffield Liberal Democrats leader Shaffaq Mohammed, who is a big Owls fan, has now thrown his weight behind the application.
He said: “I’m happy to support the campaign to designate the home of Sheffield Wednesday, Hillsborough Stadium, as an asset of community value, and I encourage others in the city to back the campaign to secure this fantastic community facility for future generations.
"Hillsborough isn’t just a football ground. There are a lot of community programmes which happen there and I’ve even been to weddings there.
“Given the uncertainty around football clubs and their ownership, it’s important that we get it recognised as the community asset which it is because it just gives it that bit more protection should anything happen.”
ACV status was introduced under the 2011 Localism Act and can apply to buildings or land where the main use has been shown to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community and could do so in the future.
Many football stadiums around the country are now designated as assets of community value, including Anfield and Old Trafford.
In Sheffield, there are 18 ACVs, with the list mostly consisting of pubs but also including Heeley People’s Park, Walkley Carnegie Library and Birley Spa Bath House.
The supporters trust has said it is working with councillors on the application and liaising with several Sheffield MPs