MPs across country in move to save stadium

Weeds take hold at a closed Oxford Stadium

Oxford East mp Andrew Smith

Newcastle MP Nick Brown

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

MPs from across the country as well as speedway promoters have joined the fight to save Oxford Stadium.

After a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorcycle Speedway, it pledged to write to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in opposition to plans to demolish it.

Moves to replace the historic site with 220 homes were rejected by Oxford City Council last month, but developer Galliard Homes has taken the issue to appeal. An independent planning inspector will now make the final decision.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, who is a member of the parliamentary group and a campaigner to keep the greyhound stadium, which has hosted speedway events, said there was unanimous support in the group for saving it. He said: “It’s great to have this backing from MPs in other parts of the country, as well as the support from other Oxfordshire MPs.

“The chairman of the British Speedway Promoters Association was also at the meeting, and he will be writing to support Oxford Stadium as well.”

The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed the case will be heard at a public inquiry, which means an independent inspector will hear the arguments over the plans.

A spokesman for the inspectorate said this would probably happen around early summer but a final date has not yet been set.

One of the reasons the stadium was closed in December 2012 was because the owners, the Greyhound Racing Association, said it was no longer viable.

But chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorcycle Speedway, Newcastle-upon-Tyne East MP Nick Brown, said the recent five-year broadcasting deal to televise speedway which Sky Sports has signed, proved it could have a viable future hosting race meetings.

He said: “MPs from diverse parts of the country were fully in support of saving Oxford Stadium, valuing the important contribution this venue has made to leading speedway events across the years.

“Especially with the recent Sky deal, speedway has a bright future, and we would like Oxford to be part of that.”

Oxford Stadium was opened in March 1939 by Lord Denham. Local speedway team the Oxford Cheetahs won a number of British League Championships at the venue.

Irish tycoon and greyhound racing fan Paschal Taggart has expressed an interest in buying the stadium.

Campaigner and former Oxford Stadium promotions manager Mick Wheble said other interested buyers had contacted him, who preferred to remain anonymous.

On Wednesday, millionaire racing track promoter Harry Findlay ruled himself out of buying the stadium after having bids for it turned down.

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