It?s a funny old world, or should I say a funny old Swindon, writes Alan Hayward.
Having been heavily involved with the successful Shaw Forest campaign to stop a football stadium and commercial development on the former landfill site which has been developing as Shaw Forest Country Park, I now find myself campaigning again – this time in favour of Swindon Town?s proposed new stadium.
The Shaw issue opened my eyes to the planning problems in Swindon and subsequently I have become involved in several planning related bodies and campaigns.
However, the stadium issue is unfinished business for me. Since June 2004 I have become increasingly aware of the importance of the football club to the town. Not just in terms of the game, but in its community and heritage aspects as well as the millions of pounds of income that are spent in Swindon by visiting supporters.
Ironically, since October, I have taken my children to every home League One match and we have had a great time shouting ?come on Swindon!?
A stadium redevelopment is vital if STFC is to continue to exist. Thirty home match days a year simply does not provide enough income to run a business and additional revenue streams through other facilities are needed for the club to survive.
Following a council motion inspired by the Supporters? Trust a year ago, Swindon Borough Council committed to work with the club to find a way of redeveloping the County Ground site.
Unfortunately, the council has responded to the latest STFC proposals with some concern, as it is reliant upon the sale of council owned land to generate the funds for the stadium redevelopment.
In turn, the club has hinted that it may well look to move out of the borough if a solution cannot be found. As we all know, the town centre is badly short of a heart. Losing the club would be the equivalent of having a ventricle ripped out. So now I find myself campaigning to ?Keep the Town in Swindon.?
Shaw was not the right place for a football stadium, but the County Ground definitely is. I would encourage all to try a home game. Despite performances, there is a great spirit there.
For more information, go to: www.KeepTownInSwindon.org.uk