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Protesters vow to fight on as removal vans empty Oxford Stadium
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Oxford Stadium have said the battle isn’t lost despite seeing the venue emptied of its furniture.
The Sandy Lane stadium closed its doors on December 29. Owners the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) said it was no longer making a profit after the loss of a lucrative Friday race meet.
The closure came after plans for 225 homes on the site were unveiled by Galliard Homes, which has links to the GRA’s parent company Risk Capital Partners.
Yesterday removal vans were at the stadium and since December 30 more than a dozen truckloads of furniture and equipment have been taken away, according to a source at the stadium who did not want to give his name.
But supporters of the stadium, who want to see the site sold to someone who will run it as a leisure facility again, say they have not lost their fight.
Speedway fan Gavin Beckley said: “They’ve started to move stuff out. The furniture from the bar is gone for example and they’re lifting carpets.
“It is a worry for us, but furniture and things like that can be replaced. As long as they don’t start knocking buildings down we’re alright.”
Oxford East MP and Blackbird Leys resident Andrew Smith helped campaigners launch a petition against the closure and demolition of the facility. He said: “We have to see what the owners’ next move is – presumably to put in a planning application for the housing scheme they want.
“The campaign will argue hard for it to be refused, and will want to see an overwhelmingly strong vote of refusal by councillors, so as to give the strongest possible signal that the council, like the community, is determined to keep the stadium and make the most of its first rate facilities.
“We now have over 1,000 signatures to the petition, which we will present when the planning application is made. We are hoping that refusal of planning permission for housing will lead the owners to sell the stadium to someone committed to making a success of it.”
In mid-December, Oxford City Council leader Bob Price issued a strongly-worded statement saying planning permission for housing on the site would not be easy and said the council supported its continued use as a leisure facility.
The stadium’s 79 staff are being made redundant on January 31 after the clear-out is completed.
The Oxford Mail made repeated attempts to contact GRA managing director Clive Feltham, with no success.