Lions respond to recent CPO developmentsMillwall Football Club is deeply concerned that the Council has yet to clarify formally what its position is on the CPO process. At its meeting on 31st January, the Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel discussed the fact that the CPO appears to be merely postponed, not cancelled, and that it remains the Mayor and Cabinet's intention to bring back a fresh CPO plan in due course.
We also have grave concerns that the investigation that the Council says it will undertake into the funding of the Surrey Canal Sports Foundation (SCSF) and related matters will not be adequately independent nor transparent. It needs to look at the full background to the New Bermondsey scheme, the role of the Council along with its close ties to Renewal and finally the misleading information that has been put in the public domain about Energize, the proposed new sports centre.
We welcome the decisions made by the Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel and we fully support the manner in which they are approaching these issues. We too believe it is critical for the officers of Lewisham Council to outline their formal position on the CPO in relation to New Bermondsey as soon as possible. We agree that the full Council should have to approve the status, terms of reference and scope of an investigation.
Chief executive of the club, Steve Kavanagh, said: "To date we have seen little evidence that the Council genuinely wishes the club to be at the heart of the proposed development and at the core of the new community. We have been subjected to dismissive and hostile attitudes by the Mayor and Cabinet and many of its officers throughout the process which has created a toxic environment that has not benefited any party involved. It is now the Council's responsibility to restore the club's faith and trust in its Council and to create a situation that recognises the positive aspects the club and its community can bring to this regeneration."
We welcome the Council's announcement that the CPO cannot be implemented; however, it seems that the door has been left wide open and the Council is minded to look at a fresh CPO decision. We believe that the CPO should be formally cancelled rather than left up in the air, thereby potentially leaving the club, the Millwall Community Trust, local businesses and residents in limbo.
Millwall Football Club has always supported the regeneration of this area and has offered to play its part. We have made it clear on numerous occasions that we are ready to participate in a scheme which will appropriately benefit the borough and the community at large. With the Football Club at the heart of the community, as the driving force behind regeneration, we believe this can bring substantial benefits for everyone in a timely and efficient manner.
One senior Council officer clearly stated in December 2016 that the Council had never used CPO powers in this way on behalf of a property developer before. "We are learning on this one," we were told. John Berylson, Millwall's chairman, said: "Millwall Football Club is not interested in being a guinea pig within this deeply flawed process."
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