In January, we reported on replies to questions sent in November, under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations, to all the local authorities in and around Coventry about discussions with Coventry City, its owners and/or their representatives, about a possible new stadium. The background to this was the following:
On 30th October 2013 Tim Fisher reported to a Supporters Consultative Group meeting that the Club were currently in discussions with two other councils and presenting the benefits and economic impact of a multi-purpose stadium. "Both those councils instantly see the benefits.”
In his Sky TV interview on 20 December, Mark Labovitch said: “There are two local authorities involved. They each want an economic impact assessment to show the benefits that the stadium will bring to the area.”
In January we reported that only Nuneaton and Bedworth Council had been "approached by a developer to discuss the possibility of locating a sports stadium in the borough.” None of the other Councils had held any such discussions with the Club although Rugby had discussed with them proposals for an Academy.
The Trust has now received replies to similar questions, sent out in March, seeking information about the up to date position. The following Councils say they have had no discussions with the Club etc about a new stadium:
Coventry, Solihull, North Warwickshire, Hinckley & Bosworth, Rugby, Warwick, Warwickshire and Daventry.
Nuneaton and Bedworth have just replied as follows: "In this case the weight of the public interest lies in withholding the information. This conclusion not only applies to withholding information provided through pre application discussion, but also extends to withholding information about whether or not pre application discussion had happened at all.”
The full reply is attached at the end of this article.
They are therefore relying on exemptions in the regulations to justify not only refusing to give details of any discussions etc but also refusing do what they did back in January, when they did acknowledge that an “approach” had been made.
In addition, the Trust had heard a rumour that the Club may be contemplating a move to Nene Park, to the East of Northampton in Irthlingborough. In March therefore, similar FOI requests were sent to East Northamptonshire District Council, Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Police. They all report that they have held no discussions etc with the Club or its representatives.
We will continue to press for full disclosure of the Club’s intentions.