Bring me SoS

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…

15 thoughts to “Bring me SoS”

  1. I think most of us are almost too wary to celebrate – after long and bitter experience – but as you say there really don’t seem to be any grounds for an expensive JR and judging by LBW’s reaction and this https://ploughlanestadium.wordpress.com/
    it really does feel as if we can finally start taking positive steps to go home rather than fighting negative obstacles to stop us doing so. In may not be the end, nor even the beginning of the end but it is perhaps the end of the beginning!

  2. So all that needs to happen now is that the S106 agreement needs to be signed, so a decision notice can be posted. After that then a possible “Judicial Review,” might be called for. Although a Judicial Review can only change a decision if it was not made legally not simply because someone does not like the decision.

    Selling Kingsmeadow to Chelsea, signing the lease with Merton, Financing the Stadium, and also building the stadium, still have to be done as well of course, but it seems that can be got on with now.

    One of the things the club will need to do is to issue a sort of “Community Share” Scheme similar to what FCUM did, and what happened when Kingsmeadow was first…

  3. Judging by their response today, I think even wandsworth has (finally) conceded. At least I hope so, anyway. The threat of me stubbornly refusing to pay my (cheapest in the country, for a reason) has finally pushed them over the edge 🙂

  4. Nice when you pick up the phone at the end of a long hard day and see this.
    I so vivudly remember that last gane at Plough Lane against Palace.
    The S106 is now the main issue to resolve but unfortunately ‘the Brighter Borough’ has a say. Personally would like to find a way to heap hell on them; no one buy from shops in Wandsworth on their way to NPL?
    We should .. but we’re not vindictive enough I suspect and I can see the good PR in being magnanimous.
    So less updates per week now Repd for a while ….

  5. I don’t think we are planning a community share issue. The naming rights deal should cover the funding gap in full. Providing the club’s self-appointed moral guardians aren’t of sufficient number to preclude a deal within a certain industry we should be looking at a 10-year deal worth in the region of £5 million.

  6. The only problem with that is it is meant to be spread over 10 years. I assume that such payments are normally made year by year so we’d probably have to sacrifice a bit to get it heavily front weighted. Sure it is the way to go as long as people don’t moan about our budgets over the first few years of NPL.

  7. Don’t think we’ll go through a community share scheme unless absolutely necessary – the fanbase has been emptied of its wallet enough over the years, and with the cost of tix these days..

    Chelski buying KM is earmarked for no later than Dec 31 this year (Ks supposedly moving out next season).

    Still fully expect negative comments from the NIMBYs/LBW/doggers/stockies, but they have effectively lost. Or more accurately, failed to argue their case effectively.

    1. Was it true that no one from the dog racing even bothered to turn up at the Merton Council planning meeting though?

      I think the only thing that expries on December 31st is the Dons Trust permission to sell the stadium. They can however sell the stadium without redoing the “Back in 2 ticks” campaign because it would be a waste of time.

      1. Some Chelski sides are moving in next summer, and Ks moving out (again, apparently) so obviously there is some deal in place.

        Doggers did indeed play no part in the planning meeting. Nor the stockies. No wonder Galliard/NAMA got fed up with them and went to us instead.

        1. The deal is already in place but depends on a number of “conditions precedent,” that have to be completed before the deal is final.

          I wonder if the stadium is not ready for August 2018, do the club stay at Kingsmeadow for part of the 2018-2019 season, play loads of away games like Liverpool did to start this season, or simply groundshare at another stadium for say 2 or 3 months?

          Although these are nice “problems” to be discussing!

          1. I wouldn’t be against groundsharing at all for that half-season, especially if NPL ends up taking until October or November (or even December).

            If it’s September 2018 then we can always get dispensation to play all the games away.

            And yes, it’s great to be writing this sort of stuff knowing full well it’s only a (tenuous) point of law that can still scupper this move

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