We still want answers say Warwick townfolk

Nigel Hamiitlon, a long standing campaigner for saving the common land on Warwick Racecourse, has discovered a secret agreement between the district council and the Jockey Club, in which the council offers to hand over the land to the Jockey Club. NNL-140729-210548009
Nigel Hamiitlon, a long standing campaigner for saving the common land on Warwick Racecourse, has discovered a secret agreement between the district council and the Jockey Club, in which the council offers to hand over the land to the Jockey Club. NNL-140729-210548009

At a packed town council meeting angry members of the public demanded to know why the district needed to make even more income from leases on and around Warwick racecourse?

Many had signed the 1,200-strong petition, due to be debated next month, which calls for a halt to any further development of historict St Mary’s Lands without full consultation.

They fear a masterplan to double the size of the caravan park and golf course, as well as encroaching on a nature reserve, is already being recommended following a district executive committee meeting.

Although on Wednesday district chief executive Chris Elliott stressed to the Courier that no decisions had actually been taken and that any development would still be subject to further consultation.

There has always been a belief that the racecourse and the council needs to generate more income from the land, even more now that the hotel idea has been dropped and flat racing will no longer boost the summer economy.

Members of Warwick Boxing Club - who currently occupy a gym beneath the grandstand - have already been given notice to quit, although the girls’ band has been given £50,000 to upgrade its premises and the air cadets have planning consent for a new hq on a shared site.

At last week’s the town council meeting some 20 people who signed the petition against further development wanted to know if some district councillors had seemingly changed their minds.

One said: “As St Mary’s Lands generates an annual profit in excess of £90,000, as published in the district council’s accounts, why is there a need for more income?”

A cross-party motion by Labour’s John Holland and Conservative Bob Dhillon called for a for a full public inquiry into the whole situation.

Town councillors were split on this until mayor Moira-Ann Grainger used her casting vote to reject an inquiry but instead invite council chiefs to a meeting.