New twist in CUFC stadium bid

OPPOSITION members of Colchester Borough Council have issued a series of questions they say must be answered before plans for a community stadium to house the town's football club go ahead.

By Roddy Ashworth

OPPOSITION members of Colchester Borough Council have issued a series of questions they say must be answered before plans for a community stadium to house the town's football club go ahead.

Tim Young, leader of the Labour Group, said that while he supported the principle of pushing forward with the project a number of issues urgently needed addressing.

The 18 questions were put to the council's Tory administration as part of an overview and scrutiny process.


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They raise concerns about how the stadium will be run once it is built and whether or not the current scheme will be commercially viable.

The council is preparing to borrow around £12 million to help fund the building of the stadium, which is to be used by Championship club Colchester United.

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The current plan would see the new facility - at Cuckoo Farm, in the north of the town - run by a management company with a board made up of representatives of the council, the club and a charity sports trust.

It is hoped that the stadium will be up and running by the end of next year.

However, a business plan for the project has yet to be produced and some of the basic principles of how the stadium will operate have still not been agreed.

A firm of consultants has now been hired to try and work through the differences between the three organisations involved and produce a sustainable business plan.

Yesterday Mr Young said: “I think the lack of a proper business case is a great concern, is overdue and needs addressing very soon.

“We are concerned about all the financial aspects and how they are stacking up. We are concerned there is no proper agreed stadium design.

“We are concerned about the proposed board membership of the company that will run it - it does not seem particularly representative.

“This is a project meant to come online in 18 months time, and in our view, with that short time-scale, we think it is well behind schedule.

“We are absolutely committed to the stadium project, and although we think there are a number of aspects that need addressing we fully support it.”

Yesterday council leader Robert Davidson said: “As well as delivering the stadium, we also want to make sure there is an absolutely watertight case for it.

“We will be putting the questions asked by the Labour Group straight through to the consultants who are building the business case.

“I share Tim's commitment to the stadium and the importance of making sure the project is sustainable and viable with no impact on council taxpayers.”

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