‘We are listening’ were the words from Council leader Ken Rhatigan as the community club’s campaign to return to the Camrose builds with growing support. Other councillors welcomed and enthusiastically supported the club’s community focus.
In two separate meetings held across two days – Basingstoke Town board members and the Save the Camrose committee spoke to Basingstoke & Deane Councillors about the club’s ambition to return to the Camrose and utilise the ground as a true community sports hub.
In a meeting led by Chairman Kevin White, Board Member Steve Williams and committee volunteer Mike Gilham the community club showcased their ambitions, plans and future aims for the Camrose ground and led a conversation that would help further shape the strategic business plan that will be presented in the coming weeks.
Chairman Kevin White stated “It was as a successful meeting as we could have hoped for. We reinforced the obvious sentiment that the Camrose is our rightful and once protected home – but this meeting was more about showcasing what we plan to do with it. This is much more than history; this is about the football club’s future and more importantly the communities. This isn’t just about Basingstoke Town, we want this to be a hub for the entire borough.”
During the meeting, Councillors were able to question the club on various aspects of the proposed return and appeared more than happy with the responses that were offered.
“The football club needs Basingstoke in the same way that Basingstoke needs the football club.” said Cllr Mark Taylor.
Cllr Gary Watts of South Ham echoed the same sentiment “You have my political support; I wholeheartedly support what the community club are trying to do.” He continued ‘The council is capital rich and have supported a number of other ventures with significant investment and this is no different’.
The Community Club made it clear that the return plan was not just to return the Camrose ground to its former state and function – but to enhance every aspect of its offering with an outward facing community driven focus that would provide a sustainable future.
Community Board member Steve Williams noted ‘Councillors welcomed the vision of a new full size, state of the art artificial pitch at the Camrose offering some 70 hours weekly community use’
It was a clearly positive meeting as Councillors were quick to offer their congratulations with the level of thought, detail and general awareness of what the community needs.
Cllr Carolyn Woolridge said ‘I’m really impressed with what I’ve heard tonight – really positive and really well thought through’ –
And Cllr Andrew McCormick followed up by saying ‘I am very pleased to hear how you are getting on with the business plan – very impressed. It’s very encouraging to hear and makes a pathway to bounce back very quickly and move back into the Camrose in the next few years’
During the meeting, Council leader Ken Rhatigan said that ‘we are listening’ and Cllr Rebecca Bean further commended the hard work the community club had clearly been putting in.
The Community Club continue to work on the business plan that will be presented to the council in the coming weeks.
Anyone interested in using such a much needed facility can register an interest at firstname.lastname@example.org
In attendance of the meetings were: Councillors Ken Rhatigan, Rebecca Bean, Andy Konieczko, Andrew McCormick, Angie Freeman, Kim Taylor, Carolyn Wooldridge , Tony Jones, Stephanie Grant, Gary Watts, Mark Taylor and Ruth Cooper.