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Club is against store on its pitch

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: April 03, 2013

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  • NOT BUDGING: From left, Bodmin Town president Brian Retallack and trustees Keith Chapman and Dick Gynn say they will fight to stay at Priory Park.

  • Bodmin link road protesters at Priory Park BOID20130330A-003

  • SAVE OUR PARK: Protesters at Priory Park make clear their opposition to the link road plan.

  • Concerned about the future of the town's football club (left to right) Dick Gynn, Keith Chapman, Brian Retallack, Sheila Chapman, Dave Skea and Sandra Retallack BOID20130330B-002_C

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BODMIN Town Football Club says it will fight any plans by Sainsbury's to build a new superstore on its Priory Park pitch after rumours of renewed interest from the retailing giant.

On Saturday morning more than 50 residents, some with placards, came to Priory Park to protest against plans for a new link road, stressing they did not want the road to cut a swathe through Priory Fields, close to the football ground.

Another march is planned this Saturday at 10.30am.

It is understand an approach was made to landowner Bodmin Town Council to build a Sainsbury's store at Priory Park 18 months ago, but was rejected.

However, the town council has since been forced to make severe cuts to its budget, including making some staff redundant.

It is also hoping to offload the Public Rooms in a bid to save cash, and could make millions of pounds by selling the football ground to a retail company such as Sainsbury's.

The town council this week denied approaching the supermarket but Dick Gynn, a football club trustee, said a property consultant who acted for Sainsbury's had told him a different story.

"He admitted to me that he'd been talking to the council about having a supermarket at Priory Park," he said.

"We could end up with a doubled-edged sword here. Cornwall Council wants to put a new link road through Priory Park and unless we're careful it's going to lead straight to Sainsbury's, which will be perfect for them.

"It that happens, it'll be the final nail in the coffin of the town centre."

Dave Skea, who lives in St Nicholas Street, said he was opposed to the new link road and to a supermarket at Priory Park.

"I was at the public consultation at the Shire House Suite the other week and a councillor told me Sainsbury's might be offered Priory Park, with a new ground built for the football club elsewhere," he said.

"People don't want the new road and don't want a supermarket on the football field either."

Bodmin Town are the reigning Carlsberg South West Premier League champions, a title they have won for the past three years.

Priory Park has been their home since the 1950s and the club says it will fight tooth and nail to prevent its home being redeveloped to accommodate a superstore.

Another club trustee, Keith Chapman, said: "Safeway wanted to build a store there 20-odd years ago and there was a big campaign to stop it, and I'm sure that will happen again."

Bodmin Town FC president Brian Retallick said: "Our ground's in the centre of the town and we don't want to move to the Dragon Leisure Centre or anywhere else. We'll put up a fight to stay here."

Bodmin Town Council said it had heard of the Sainsbury's rumours, but there had not been an offer from a supermarket to develop the football pitches.

Lance Kennedy, chairman of its property committee, said: "In order to establish the truth I have, on behalf of the town council, made inquiries to establish the veracity of any interest. At this time there has been no reply.

"Should the town council receive an offer to purchase any of its land or buildings it is duty-bound to discuss such offers. Having established the details, there would then be a requirement to discuss the business case, its advantages and disadvantages to the town. Following such discussions the information would then have to be made public for general consideration prior to any decision.

"Failure to give proper consideration and consultation would be open to serious questions over governance.

"During a meeting with the chairman of Bodmin Town FC more than two weeks ago, knowing of the rumours being circulated we had a brief discussion around the need to keep them immediately informed of any interest and recognise their involvement as a high priority."

Residents battling to stop a new link road cutting through Priory Fields have petitions circulating the town.

Michele Battisson, who started the petition, said: "It looks like all roads will be leading to Sainsbury's.

"Priory Fields is a wonderful amenity, a lovely green space which is one of the first things people see when they drive into Bodmin from Priory Road.

"It'll be ruined if a new road's built through there – it'll be absolutely terrible."

Vicky Gynn, whose house would be compulsorily purchased and demolished if the new road won approval, said a protest march would be held this Saturday at 10.30am from Bodmin Town FC.

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