CAMPAIGNERS who want to save Oxford Stadium are urging residents to attend three vital meetings, starting tonight.

The Save Oxford Stadium group is calling on people to reignite efforts to rescue the beleaguered facility in Blackbird Leys.

The campaigners raised the rallying cry after city council leaders revealed last month they were writing a special policy into their new Local Plan to bring the stadium back into use.

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That report will be discussed by the council cabinet tonight and the lobby group is urging people to attend at the town hall at 6pm.

The group’s chairman Ian Sawyer said in addition to tonight’s cabinet meeting, there would be a public meeting at the Chequers Inn in Headington Quarry on Tuesday, November 26, at 7pm.

He said: “We need everyone there on that night to show their support.

Oxford Mail:

"The meeting at the Chequers will involve a legal representative, Steven Sensecall, who the campaign group has called upon using the money we raised from a golf day that we held a few years ago. This has come after recommendations that we seek legal representation. There will also be councillors in attendance at The Chequers.

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“We held a meeting with Mr Sensecall and he has asked if we could write letters to express the need for the stadium to remain.”

Oxford Mail:

Without the special policy, the council would be unlikely to be able to stop the permanent loss of the former Speedway stadium.

The emerging Local Plan – a key document that will underpinning planning rules until 2036 – is currently being examined by Government-appointed Planning Inspectors, who will decide whether or not each policy is ‘sound’ and can be included in the document.

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The council has produced a new report exploring how it could facilitate a third-party operator bringing Oxford Stadium back into use – if the Oxford Stadium planning policy is found to be sound by the Planning Inspectors.

The report makes it clear that the council would not buy Oxford Stadium using taxpayers’ money and has no intention of bringing the stadium into public ownership.

Instead, the council would aim to act as ‘a facilitator’ so that a private company could buy the Sandy Lane stadium from the current landlord in order to reopen it as a leisure or community facility.

Oxford Mail:

The third date in the campaigners' calendar is December 3, when the next stage of discussion about the Local Plan will begin.

Council member for planning Alex Hollingsworth said: “Oxford Stadium is a valuable community asset and we have always said that we would like to see it reopen for leisure use.

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“But the council cannot fund that reopening with taxpayers’ money, and the business that takes over the stadium must be able to stand on its own two feet.

“We now await the decision from the Planning Inspector as to whether or not our policy seeking to protect the stadium is sound.”

Speedway came to a halt after 59 seasons at Sandy Lane following the 2007 season, with greyhound racing also ceasing in 2012.

Oxford Mail:

The council then placed both heritage status and conservation status on the stadium, which have tied the hands of stadium owners Cowley Property Investments Ltd, in terms of any housing development on the site.

Earlier this year, all the remaining businesses at the stadium - the go-karts, dance studio and motorcycle training – ceased to operate.