Stadium campaigners need to take a reality check, says Rovers chairman

November 29 2013

ROVERS chairman Nick Higgs has dismissed claims by campaigners that they are in support of Rovers but not a new supermarket at the Memorial Ground.

ROVERS chairman Nick Higgs has dismissed claims by campaigners that they are in support of Rovers but not a new supermarket at the Memorial Ground.
TRASH (Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury's Horfield) says it wants to back the football club's drive for a new stadium, but not at the expense of Gloucester Road.
Rovers want to sell the Horfield stadium to the supermarket chain to fund a move to a £40 million new stadium at the UWE campus in Frenchay.
But the club's plans have been delayed now that the High Court has granted TRASH's application for a judicial review of Bristol City Council's decision to give planning permission for a Sainsbury's at the Horfield ground.
Mr Higgs told BishopstonVoice: "It's difficult to see how they're in support of Bristol Rovers when they campaigned against the previous scheme to redevelop the ground.
"What do they want on this site? What are they trying to achieve, other than costing people a lot of money?
"There appears of be naivety in TRASH's approach - they want to support Rovers getting a new stadium, but they're disconnected from the fact we need a certain amount of money to dispose of the site to achieve this aim. There needs to be a reality check."
It was another protest group, Horfield ROSE, that opposed the proposed re-development of the Memorial ground in 2009 because of its "adverse impact on local amenity including an increase of congestion and pollution".
Mr Higgs is urging TRASH to look at the wider benefits that could be had from Sainsbury's purchasing the ground.
He said: "I don't think they're taking on board all of the plus points of the stadium development [at Frenchay] and the greater benefits it could have for Bristol and the surrounding area.
"Also, what will be replacing the Memorial Stadium is a mixed-use development, providing housing, a memorial garden, green open space, and car parking for Gloucester Road."

The decision to conduct a judicial review of the new supermarket was granted by the High Court on November 15. .
Green Party councillor, Daniella Radice, who has been involved in the campaign, said: "I am pleased to see that the judicial review has been granted. This is a critical issue for Bishopston - we all know that our local shops cannot be taken for granted."
Diana Scrafton, of TRASH , said: "We have already raised over £16,000 towards legal costs, including the £10k protective costs order which we will be required to pay Bristol City Council should the review not be found in our favour.
"The fact that so many people have donated from their own pockets demonstrates how strongly opposed the local community is to having a Goliath supermarket on this historic World War Memorial site.
"The judicial review is an important part of our democratic system that can help to ensure that important decisions are taken properly and we are grateful to have this decision scrutinised."
Tom Kennedy, of TRASH, added: "We want to support Rovers' drive for a stadium but not at the expense of the local high street and the disastrous traffic impact.
"The present application is so far from fair to the community that it seems it has broken the law. The community is already starting to put together more appropriate developments, including alternative sporting facilities, much needed schools and housing that could assist Rovers with their new stadium - Rovers should talk to the local community and together we can find a proposal with which Bristol can move forward."
Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West who has spoken out against TRASH’s campaign, said: “It is worth saying that this decision means we do not have the threat of TRASH lodging an appeal which would have meant further long delays.
“Supporters of the project can now concentrate on making the best case to allow the Sainsbury’s development and, in turn, Rovers' new stadium."
She added: "We will continue to demonstrate that TRASH does not speak for Bristol by gathering petition signatures, and will make sure that all the information about the development is disseminated.”
The petition set up by Ms Leslie has now gathered over 7,000 signatures.
The judicial review hearing is expected to be conducted early in the new year.