Pepf update

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Pepf update

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:51 pm

What happened at todays meeting at the hive?
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Re: Pepf update

Postby BKK » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:10 am

I will attempt to post up a few notes soon as too shagged to do so now as just got in

One thing though is that I finally managed to get my points across to TK face to face and I feel the better for it even tho shaking with anger.

Well done to Mr Piffle, Mim, Renard and Mr Ranos for attending. It was important to show the powers that be that we still care and want an input. :x
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Re: Pepf update

Postby Stoneage » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:29 am

I have never seen so many councillors outside a council chamber!

They came pouring out of the woodwork outnumbering the residents that remained.
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Re: Pepf update

Postby Ronnie » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:05 am

Interesting day for me. I've not got involved in the off field goings on for many a year, but in the absence of anything of great significance in my diary thought I'd pop along. I'm first to admit I don't know all the history so if I get anything wrong - sorry! Wasn't quite sure what to expect really, so when I did turn up around 1130, was quite surprised to find about 20 or so people gathered around a large table in what seemed quite a formal manner. Problem 1, with no advertised or set time, what proceeded to happen was a number of comings and goings whereby newcomers asked questions about what had already been covered, so frustrating for all.

My first impression was that the publicity surrounding this event was a shambles - some local residents received letters, some didn't - couldn't see anything on Harrow Council or Barnet websites either. So was this whole thing designed to be kept as quiet as possible to say there had been consultations when reality is that not everyone who may have valid input even knew about it?

I don't know what I missed before I arrived, but sounds like I must have missed the main questioning/comments from the other WFC related attendees, so missed Nick’s bit with Kleanthous - I'm sure they can fill in on that aspect, particularly in relation to why the site has been allowed to operate prior to the main stadium being completed.

In short I listened to Kleanthous (who I had never seen or met before) outline what he was trying to do, and a bunch of residents raising concerns about traffic and noise pollution. Some of the residents were painful to listen to I must say, particularly as they tried to make the same point 7 times over. Kleanthous explained that Barnet have to play somewhere other than Underhill from 2013-14 season if they want to continue League football, and that PEPF is his preferred option - but he will only move after consultation with Barnet fans. However this can't be considered unless Harrow Council give the green light. Kleanthous did mislead the meeting in my opinion, when he explained that they would be able to play League football in 2015 at PEPF anyway, and that all he was seeking to do in this consultation was bring it forward 2 years because of the immediate problem Barnet have. The council reps / planning case officer didn't correct him either at this stage. The cynic in me tells me that this is because their minds are pretty made up that they will recommend that Harrow Council give the go ahead. Later therefore I questioned when the agreement had been given that they could play League football there in 2015. At this point they backtracked, the lease signed in 2010 said that Barnet couldn't ask for permission to play League football for 5 years. If they do ask for permission, then it could only realistically be refused if there were reasonable grounds for doing this. As things stand the only grounds appear to be traffic and access related.

Kleanthous made it clear that although he knows he has to complete the stadium, he does not want to do it unless he can use it. Harrow Council don't want to see an overgrown derelict pitch either, they want it finished too. So they appear cosy bedfellows at the moment, a bit too cosy for my liking, but you can understand it. If Harrow don't say yes, then what powers do they have to make Barnet complete the job? Saying yes is an easy, convenient option for them.

Kleanthous also stated that the move to PEPF wasn't the long term solution, that ultimately he wants a 10000 all seater stadium for Barnet, which would match his aspirations for Barnet to achieve Championship football.

The residents and particularly Harrow Council need to be fully aware of what they are getting into here; a yes decision now is still at the thin end of the wedge, once in I really can't see Barnet moving out. By their own admission their relationship with Barnet Council is so bad, so awkward, why would they want to go back? Further expansion plans on the PEPF site will follow in years to come - just watch it happen. Harrow Council will be stuck with them, and if they don't play ball, Barnet could threaten to pull out completely, which Harrow Council don't want either.

A 'no' decision now, and they have to wait 2 more years to ask, they will have to look at other options. They referred the decision of Barnet Council to give Copthall to Saracens to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. They believe they have a case, but Kleanthous does not want to go down what could be an expensive route for them, also bearing in mind that if they won, he would end up having to work with a council who are awkward. I wonder if Harrow say no, then would Kleanthous pursue this further?

So where does this leave Wealdstone? Both Kleanthous and Harrow Council say that the lease is clear, that if Wealdstone want to play at PEPF then they can. Whether Wealdstone can afford it, that is down to Wealdstone, but the door is open. And that ultimately is the crux of the matter as we stand today. Bizarrely, today was the first time I had ever been to PEPF. Much as I love the Vale, we all know that the future there is uncertain, and we must look beyond. It broke my heart to see the stadium as it is, and to hear Kleanthous say that he hoped to pick up new supporters in Harrow, that is so wrong. I would love to see us at PEPF, answers on a postcard as to how we can achieve this!

It’s also clear listening to the Council chappy, that he believes the most logical and affordable option for Wealdstone to play in Harrow would be some arrangement with the Scummers. However unpalatable that may sound, we certainly shouldn’t rule that out in my opinion.

As I was about to leave I was collared by Kleanthous and we had a good open chat. On the whole and throughout the meeting, he came across very well, and on first meeting I didn’t’ have any reason to dislike him. Ultimately he is a shrewd operator who knows what he wants, knows how to work the system, and will do what he wants to get what he wants. If Wealdstone do want to play at PEPF, then we have to engage with him, and until we do, then we are the lowest of his priorities.

I look forward to hearing others’ takes on the day, sorry if this is all a bit random, and a mixture of fact and my opinion.
Last edited by Ronnie on Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pepf update

Postby Belmont Rattler » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:58 am

Thanks Jon for letting us know very clearly what went on at PEPF yesterday. I now look forward to hearing Nick's views on what we learnt yesterday. It certainly doesn't look too good regarding our possible future there. I'm sure the last thing we want is to groundshare with Barnet. Let's hope we can get the lease at The Vale sorted out to everyone's satisfaction in the very near future.
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Re: Pepf update

Postby BKK » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:08 am

Thanks Jon for the comments from the meeting and sorry I didn't have time to stay longer and say hello but I had already been there an hour when you arrived.

This was also the first time I have spoken with Kleanthous but listening to him for a couple of hours and his response to my questions merely served to confirm my previous conclusions that here is a man that knows what he wants, and what he wants he generally gets and 'negotiating' with him is beyond what we have to offer on our board IMO. In essence , in my view, we have been weak with him at critical periods in the past and allowed him to take full control of any dealings with PEPF with LBH. He is a clever and persuasive operator with influence, and who can blame him for doing the best for Barnet as he sees it? The problem he now has is convincing his own fans to come with him but that wont stop him either. I know because I have spent time talking to Barnet fans (some of whom were there yesterday but didn't want to come in) and they are very angry.

But I am not fooled and was able to look TK straight in the eye. It's such a shame Bananas wasn't there!

I'm not going to repeat Jon's excellent summary. Those of you who know me, know that that I am extremely bitter to say the least about the whole miserable saga of PEPF as I believe is it one of the greatest untold scandals of football, but yesterday I just wanted to exorcise my ghosts and challenge TK on a few points and make those present aware of the investment of time and yes, money, that Wealdstone put into the site only to hand it on a plate to another club to use for the benefit of other supporters.

This was OUR dream and to me , if not to other people, it is an utter, utter, disgrace that we 'my club' have given up on a project that took 10 years to bring to the point of getting it built. I find it shocking - few do and just shrug their shoulders and say ' move on, we can't do anything about it'. Well when the lease runs out at Ruislip and we are homeless again maybe their will be some regrets?

In essence the points I made to TK were to 'remind' him and the many councillors present including the Portfolio holder of just that: the time and effort that Wealdstone have put into the site over many years to bring it to a point where Barnet could move in. We spent £300k of our own money and TK had his facts wrong on a number of counts about outside grants and I was able to point this out. Mr Ranos also pointed out with great clarity some interesting planning issues that have been conveniently glossed over.

To be honest I don't want to type any more because whatever I say on this subject is generally poo-pooed as old ground.

But just remember - this our going to be OUR home, OUR dream. Should we just give up on it? Can we?
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Re: Pepf update

Postby breakspear stones » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:34 am

So what happens next then,are the board going to make a comment on yesterday proceedings or is just going to be forgotten about again till its to late
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Re: Pepf update

Postby Ronnie » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:51 am

I don't think we should give up on PEPF either. I think everyone knows my views on how we should have preserved our money and therefore had a bargaining position. Like Nick, my views are all old ground and seen as such.

However, we have to be practical today. I think the Board need to be clear and categorical about where they see our future, and how they see us getting there, not just sitting back and waiting.
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Re: Pepf update

Postby attic » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:04 am

Again, you could argue that its old ground, but we effectively 'gave up' on the project when we put Wealdstone Stadia Management into liquidation. This seemed to be a decision that attracted little or no scrutiny from anyone at all. Maybe we were simply all worn down by it all, or worn down by those who constantly suppressed debate on the subject.

However, moving on.

It would appear we're very much part of PEPF if we chose to do so. The fact we probably can't afford it is something of a major inconvenience mind. But then again, I personally find it a major inconvenience that we're averaging 500, have a social club that in general is doing well, yet are still somewhat 'lower midtable' when it come to our playing budget. Or has this changed?

I'm concerned about our future because it would appear we simply we don't have enough big hitters on the board. The majority of us have a personal likeness and a healthy professional relationship when it comes to club matters. However, can they secure our future before the lease inevitably runs out and we end up having to groundshare with Northwood, Hillingdon or the Scummers?
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Re: Pepf update

Postby WfcGooner » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:42 pm

Whilst not wishing to sound like any more of an arse than I usually do, I’m aware of my role in attempting to help the Board secure their objectives with regard to PEPF and the fact that this is a public forum.

That caveat aside, yesterday was a public meeting so I’ll bung in my two pence worth on those proceedings (to accompany the excellent summaries of Ronnie and Nick)….

The meeting had, in the eyes of local residents at least, been poorly publicised. A leaflet had arrived at some (not all) houses on the Thursday or Friday. A letter from ward councillors had also been delivered although not specifying times. Those times, as I pointed out, probably wasn’t the best approach as the same points would be raised throughout the day and repeated. A 2/3 hour open meeting would probably have been a better approach.

Myself and Nick were there at the beginning, soon followed by Q and then RR (sorry I missed you Mim!).

Ronnie quite rightly pointed out that the large “boardroom” type layout wasn’t ideal yet the WFC contingent, by chance, sat at one end with TK at the other. Assorted councillors and officers and a reasonable number of residents sat down the sides.

We sat biding our time whilst the residents said their piece. That being haranguing TK over the need for a stadium, and both TK and LB Harrow over traffic, parking, noise, litter, anti-social behaviour etc.

As TK answered the (relevant) concerns there was never a mention of us until we spoke.

I didn’t/don’t want to belittle the residents obvious concerns but felt obliged to point out that the fact remains that planning permission exists for a 5k stadium there and the “consultation” was not organised as part of the planning process per se but a renegotiation of the lease from LB Harrow to Barnet. To suggest otherwise to the residents would be both misleading (and not in our interests).

As we announced our presence (TK was surprised, I believe, although the councillors/officers knew) the first points were to clarify the exact purpose of the “consultation” (as lease renegotiations are not generally put out for discussion). The response was that the lease would be discussed at an Executive meeting in July (which is likely to be a public meeting and another chance for both the residents and ourselves to make our presence felt).

The officer (Director) confirmed that no statutory consultation is actually required but LB Harrow wish to be “open and transparent” about any lease re-negotiation resulting in Barnet moving to PEPF.

Again, I don’t want to undermine, in any way, discussions that take place “behind closed doors” involving us but the Officer (Director) stated yesterday that LB Harrow’s “commitment to Wealdstone remains as strong as it will ever be” and that “the [lease] clause will remain”.

We then had some discussion around TK’s intention regarding our involvement. Whilst much of that is undoubtedly better served by discussion with/by our board, at the end TK stated he “wouldn’t think about making a penny out of Wealdstone but the running costs are high”.

The residents became a little frustrated during our intra-football club discussion. However, as pointed out to them, it is vital that the residents realise that the situation is – as agreement currently stands – that a stadium will be built for the use of our first team and not Barnet’s. As such it is in their interest that our interest remains.

The rest of the meeting has been excellently covered by Ronnie and Nick.

Ronnie wrote:I'm sure they can fill in on that aspect, particularly in relation to why the site has been allowed to operate prior to the main stadium being completed.

When residents began questioning (asking for?) the removal of the clause that obligates them to build a stadium, I did indeed leap in. LB Harrow are adamant that this is not applicable but I stated my belief that this is (and also believe that it would be in a relevant court).

As Ronnie stated there was a bit of a “revolving door” attendance and my shift came to an end after a couple of hours. On the way out I spoke to several residents, one of whom was very forthright in his views towards both Harrow and Barnet. However, he was full of praise for the approach taken by us during our involvement…..

I could comment further of the other posts but had better resist for the reasons I opened with (that's not to say I don't agree!).

breakspear stones wrote:So what happens next then,are the board going to make a comment on yesterday proceedings or is just going to be forgotten about again till its to late

The bottom line is that the Board does have a strategy with regard to Barnet, LB Harrow and PEPF. I wouldn’t imagine that yesterday’s proceedings alter that strategy (although there were a couple of other points made by TK which need a bit of discussing).

Ronnie wrote:I think the Board need to be clear and categorical about where they see our future

What I would urge though (and strongly) is that supporters do complete the Fans’ Survey. There are a couple of relevant sections and certainly add a bit of weight to the views of where we should be playing our football in the future.
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