FoSB has obtained the following email from Mr Firoz Kassam on behalf of Firoka, the
company which owns the Kassam Stadium in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Following a further query, we were told the email had been sent to ‘Cllr Leffman [Leader of Oxfordshire County Council] alongside a number of other people including an MP [later confirmed as Layla Moran MP] and
journalists’. As you’ll see, Mr Kassam claims it was OUFC (not Firoka) that was unwilling to negotiate a solution to staying at the Kassam
Stadium and there was very little action from our councils to find a way that OUFC could stay at Kassam! FoSB believes that the ‘school teacher’
referred to is Niall McWilliams, OUFC’s Chief Strategic Officer.
This email raises important questions:
- Has OUFC made itself voluntarily homeless? If so, why? Where did they think they would go?
- If OUFC made itself homeless, how can it even consider claiming very special circumstances to acquire yet another green belt site?
- Were OUFC under the impression that they could have another site e.g. Stratfield Brake and so happy to lose their right to stay at the Kassam Stadium until 2046?
- Is this why OUFC hasn’t really bothered to look properly for other sites?
- What did Cllr Leffman do with this information? If nothing, why not?
This is an email from Oxfordshire County Council to OUFC in March 2021 (also obtained under FOIA). It seems like Stratfield Brake was pretty much a ‘done deal’ back then until the County Council seemed to realise that Kidlington Parish Council could veto the move. These are heads of terms (i.e. the main terms of agreement) drawn up between OUFC and OCC.
WE ARE OUTRAGED.
THERE IS A COMPLETE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY SURROUNDING
OUFC’S STADIUM PROPOSALS AND WE’RE NOT BEING TOLD THE WHOLE TRUTH.
Our elected representatives aren’t listening and they won’t answer our questions. Sadly therefore we have had to resort to legal action.
FoSB sent a ‘letter before claim’ to Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) on 21 July challenging the recent consultation. Based on legal advice, we believe it was unlawful. OCC failed to provide sufficient reasons for the proposed sale of the Triangle site to allow consultees to provide an intelligent response to the consultation. In particular, the consultation dodges a key issue: i.e. why OUFC can’t remain at the existing Kassam Stadium which was only built around 20 years ago and what will happen to the Kassam Stadium if they leave. Oxford City Council’s planning policy is to retain, or if it cannot be retained, replace, the Kassam Stadium site.
OCC’s reply on 11 August 2023 was (predictably) disappointing. It doesn’t answer the grounds of challenge or engage with their duty of candour (ie their duty to be open and honest!). FoSB’s reply to OCC on 15 August says that we’re willing to await the Cabinet decision before commencing legal action. We also said that we would be surprised if officers were able to recommend to Cabinet members that they approve the sale of the Triangle without providing members with the information requested in our pre-action letter – they also need this information in order to determine whether to sell the Triangle! The Cabinet is due to make a decision on 19 September 2023.
Kidlington Parish Council
It’s deeply concerning that not only has Kidlington Parish FAILED to respond to the County Council’s consultation on Kidlington’s behalf, it has planned another meeting with OUFC. Why? KPC should respect the results of the Kidlington Parish Poll or they should’ve carried out their own survey. It is undemocratic to base their response on further information from OUFC which wasn’t available to the public as part of the consultation. We have written an email to KPC, but they have not yet responded.
Layla Moran MP
We are the ONLY group speaking out against OUFC’s stadium proposal. Not one of our local liberal democrat councillors has voiced any support for local residents who have made it very clear we don’t want a stadium on the Triangle. We’ve written a letter to Layla Moran, and await a reply.
Dates for your diary
KPC is expected to decide its final position on the stadium at the full council meeting on 7th September.
Oxfordshire County Council is expected to decide on the stadium proposals at its Cabinet meeting on 19th September.
The Triangle in full bloom
As you can see from the latest photos,
the Triangle is in full bloom and absolutely buzzing with
insects, including vital pollinators. It is astounding that OUFC and our local councils are considering destroying this biodiverse space. Our local councils are certainly not living up to the
Climate Emergency pledge they’ve all made! A small taster below.
WE ARE THE ONLY GROUP SPEAKING OUT AGAINST OUFC’S PROPOSALS.
WE NEED STRENGTH IN NUMBERS TO MAKE OUR COLLECTIVE VOICE HEARD.
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