At last, the news we’ve all wanted – the Secretary of State isn’t calling in NPL.
[SW19 note, 30/9/16 – there are a couple of factual inaccuracies that I’ve since crossed out from the orginal copy, which are self explanatory – read the Coventry report for the correct information].
Make no mistake, this is a big step forward in returning home, perhaps just as big as Khan overturning Boris the Retard (BtR). And certainly no less fraught.
You can sense the club is a lot happier after today than its previous update when the Mayor returned it to LBM. That was a lot more subdued, almost expecting this latest slog that turned up trumps this afternoon.
The letter from the SoS was almost “do-we-have-to-even-answer-this?”, and there wasn’t much reason beyond political spite and NIMBYism to call it in.
The wait for the decision has definitely taken its toll, though. I noticed on Saturday Erik Samuelson did appeared a little bit fed up (or not quite his easy-going self) when people asked about it, and I don’t doubt this has been a stressful time for all concerned.
See, since it got called in by BtR the paranoia has been intensified ten-fold. When he did that to us, and looking back – it was even more of a shock he got leant on than we realised at the time.
Going through the SoS was perhaps worse of all because it was something we couldn’t directly do anything about. Whose side was Sajid Javid on? Ours? Wandsworth? His own?
Speaking of the brighter borough (sic), I’d like to think that their appeal to the SoS was just – to quote somebody pretty high up in the Dons Trust – just playing to their gallery.
When you read what I assume was at least partly their submission to the SoS, it really was a snidey attempt at intervening, wasn’t it?
Representing your NIMBYs is one thing, but anyone who remembers their gloating when it got called in – and their wailing when it got overturned – will know it was more than that.
They got successful leaning on BtR after all, and they obviously thought they could pull the same trick again. One assumes that Javid wasn’t quite so matey with a couple of LBW councillors after all..
We’ll never find out, but I would like to think somebody with a brain at Wandsworth Town Hall pulled certain people aside and pointed out you can’t insinuate a neighbouring borough and the GLA were up to no good.
Oh, and their own planners. And the Environment Agency. And TfL. And Sport England. And anyone else who I’ve forgotten right now.
Equally, I’d also like to think the final bit of writing in caused a few “oh shit” moments. Though when the inevitable book about this comes out, I hope there’s a bit about why we pushed the write-in then suddenly stopped it.
Anyway, LBW have clearly had their arses slapped a bit, as their reaction in the local Guardian illustrates. Yes, it really wasn’t anything to do with a Labour local authority and Mayor approving the decision.
And no, they never hated football, or AFCW, either.
Still, they can start making themselves actually work for their local constituents and play a part in the s106s. That goes for the “concerned local residents” too.
As the LBM leader said, we can finally start getting on with it. When they get signed off, then it all starts getting properly real.
Except for the possibility of a judicial review. The last hurdle when it comes to planning, and one that will give us six more weeks of not sitting comfortably.
But this is what a judicial review process entails. Especially pre-action protocols, which (alongside the money it costs to even write in the first place) are designed to stop people not liking the decision from scuppering it.
And really, assuming that the tons of legal bods, planners, councillors who can write their own name unaided etc have got every process checked and double checked, it’s pretty unlikely to happen.
When you read our application, it’s so in-depth that it would have to be a fuck-up of Ryan Clarke proportions to even go to Planning Court.
And who would try and get one to begin with? LBW are vindictive enough, but their legal department isn’t as stupid as their councillors. At least, we assume they aren’t.
Taggart? Spend money? Christ, he didn’t even bother doing any sort of meeting with LBM. The only money he spent on this whole thing was the odd pint for sycophantic greyhound journalists.
The stock-car racers? I don’t think they twig even now that they’d be gone from Wimbledon eventually anyway – emissions zones are only going to get stricter, and they were only tenants anyway.
Remember that “10000+” online petition they used to persuade BtR? They were going to send it again to the SoS – and they called us desperate…
The NIMBYs? Same reasons as why all the others bar LBW probably won’t even attempt it. They have the mouth but probably not the money…
Come to think of it, what case does anyone have for a JR? This is where – if it wasn’t for yet another delay – the sinister part of me would enjoy one getting brought against us.
Why? Because they have to prove that it was all a big stitch up. Actual proper evidence, and not the usual sneers, smears and innuendo.
It would cost a sizeable four figure sum to even bring it to planning court, and a substantial five figure sum should they lose it. At least…
I don’t doubt there will be noises about taking this to litigation, but if they’ve got any sense they’ll keep quiet. This might be the time for a few brains to finally engage.
If I was Wandsworth for example, I would swallow this news with a bit of grace for once,
and instead start pushing to get the best possible deal out of the S106s.
The politicians are positioning themselves to claim credit for the S106s now, so we’re definitely on the right track. Steven Hammond was doing exactly that last Sunday week.
While I was writing this, Oonagh Moulton (LBM Conservative leader) was welcoming home AFCW and also pushing LBM for the best possible deal.
I’m sure she spoke out against NPL at Crown House on December 10th. Or just “representing her constituents”…
The Tooting MP was mentioning S106 sums even before Sadiq Khan gave the all-clear. One such sum involved giving a lot of money to local residents for parking.
Assuming by “residents” they mean the likes of the WPRA, then that’s a good put-up-or-shut-up incentive for them. Don’t want their roads clogged up with those horrible football fans? Here’s £100k for some CPZs to keep us away.
The residents, Wandsworth etc have a bit of influence here, because it’s actually in their interests to get involved. They have nowhere else to go now, effectively, and if they can’t claim something from the s106s they’ve not only lost over NPL but they’ve failed full stop.
Take parking – that will be heavily restricted, or at least it should be. True, there will be a bit of it, but anyone used to KM’s field will have to enjoy it while they still can.
I don’t expect anyone to be able to leave their car around Wimbledon Park tube, for example. Although given everything, it would be ironic – and funny – if you could.
That won’t be the only restriction, but we’ll adapt. Football fans are good at that sort of thing, and having been to more newly built grounds in the last 10 years that I can remember – NPL will be fine for all concerned.
As for today, a huge weight was lifted off our collective shoulders, and for the first time going home seems real. There is still the one big hurdle to vault over, but now we get into the nice stuff, the actual infrastructure and how the damn thing is going to work.
The S106s will take a few more weeks (“how long is a piece of string?” said E Samuelsen on Saturday), and the judicial review will be six more weeks of waiting.
But you can wait. After all, we’ve only waited since 1991…