Hatfield Town Council urged to be more 'open' over sports stadium plans
PUBLISHED: 15:17 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:42 13 September 2017
Danny Loo Photography 2016
Members of the public have urged Hatfield Town Council to stop "hiding so much" when it comes to proposals for a football stadium.
At last night’s town council meeting, council leader Lenny Brandon revealed the council was hoping to bring a 200-seat stadium to the town after being quizzed during public question time.
Former Hatfield rugby player Alex Owen asked: “How many seats, and I’m going to quote Lenny, will this ‘world class sports facility’ require to fulfil its purpose?”
Mr Brandon said: “The football ground we’re looking into building will need enough seats for Hatfield Town or whoever are the top team, for the league they’re playing.”
Mr Owen asked: “What number will it need?”
Mr Brandon said: “Two hundred.”
Hatfield mayor, councillor James Broach said: “Nothing is going to be built without going through the full public consultation process.
“Everyone will have the chance to see what the proposals are before we start.”
But former Independent Hatfield town councillor, Caron Juggins, asked: “As you have spent a vast amount of money already on architect’s plans, would it not have been advisable to ask the public first before you spent public money on a scheme that may not come to fruition?”
Mr Brandon said: “Architects don’t work for nothing.
“We’re running Hatfield Town Council more efficiently than it’s ever been run in living memory.
“We’ve looked at lots and lots of options to make this town better.
“It’s not just about a football ground, it’s about several different sports.
“I have spoken to the governing body of rugby in this country.
“There are lots of different options we have looked at.
“Rather than put that out to the public in the beginning, we will put it out once this council have made an informed decision.”
Mr Brandon added: “I sincerely hope by the turn of the year a public consultation will have taken place.”
He confirmed that the council had not sought any grant funding because the they did not yet have “proper plans”, but he did say that they had £800,000 in section 106 money.
Member of the public Lorraine Cooke, who runs St John’s Youth Club in Hilltop, said: “I think the town council have been very supportive to my club.
“But you’re letting yourselves down and looking rather silly.
“I think what you’re doing is a great idea, but you have to be a bit more open.
“People are perceiving all sorts of things.
“Why don’t you let them know what you’re doing to try and help the community?
“You’re coming across as really negative because you’re hiding so much.
“People are worried you will build on the green grass.”
Mr Broach said: “Trust me, I don’t like having to keep the plans secret or confidential.”
Councillor John Fitzpatrick added: “There are a lot of commercial aspects involved and you can’t just put that into the public domain all the time.
“There are various regeneration projects going on in Hatfield, but I don’t see people knocking on the doors of the borough council.
“People have used this opportunity to put around misinformation.”
He added: “People are going to have a choice on what we put forward.
“We have had to bit our tongues for a long time now.”
One member of the public said: “Tonight we have heard that the stadium is for 200 people.
“If that had come out earlier, it would have shut up a lot of people.”
Councillor Jack Nelson said: “I know it’s frustrating.”
He added: “When it becomes public, people can have a say.
“There will be no stealing of Green Belts.”