For those who aren't aware, basically, there have been plans to provide an Aviva Premiership standard ground for the Cornish Pirates Rugby Club, but also to be multi-use, for football, etc and for years and years it has dragged out as the Pirates have been within touching distance of playing Premiership Rugby. As well as Truro City flying up the leagues in the football pyramid, yet both teams are playing with temporary stands, temporary hospitality with no set in stone facilities that can (and have) changed year on year, making for uncertain futures with little concrete progress to take sport in Cornwall any further.
Indeed money is tight in the public sector, Cornwall Council is no exception to this, yet lets look at what else they have funded in previous years with little opposition in the chamber;
- Eden Project - literally hundreds of millions spent on this grand project, with £3million in loans from Cornwall County Council (as it was then), only £1.8million has been paid back.
- Tate Gallery - £4million in purchasing land and redevelopment, simply passed with no objection.
- Newquay Airport - £7.8million, with the potential for more in the future.
- Isles of Scilly link - £2.53million from Cornwall Council directly.
All of these, and this is just a handful of the more well known projects in Cornwall, are fantastic as they bring tourists to Cornwall, as well as providing hubs to travel around and also for Cornish people to travel domestically and even internationally closer to home without having to go to an airport further away.
So, what is the issue you ask? Cornwall Council stipulated that any stadium would need to be funded entirely by the private sector, strange you might think, considering it is serving the people of Cornwall in so many ways. Yet on May 11th this year, CC were told that it would not be possible to entirely fund the Stadium privately - and today, any funding from CC was rejected out of hand. This is not the first time certain councillors have tried to put the brakes on this project; ever since Cornwall Community Stadium Ltd (a combo of Inox, a private company, Truro College and the Cornish Pirates) have proposed this project a certain section of Conservative Councillors have batted down suggestion public funds be used.
Why is this? I understand that the economic climate is not good, however, CCS Ltd are not looking for the entirety of the money (thought to be around £14m-£24m), and those against using public funds are not seeing the long term benefits of building such a Stadium. In my opinion I see the following as key benefits;
- Jobs - several thousand required directly and indirectly to build, maintain and run the stadium.
- Not just a sports venue - can be used for conferences, weddings, events, again attracting more business.
- Cornish Sport on the map - The Cornish Pirates especially are little known outside of the South West, a Premiership style ground will change this. Just look at what happened to Exeter after Sandy Park was built.
- Away fans (and home fans!) - indirect and direct business, B&B's, restaurants, food, hospitality will all benefit which equals money. You could expect several thousand and big Premiership games, even a few hundred away fans at RFU Championship level. At a 10,000 seater stadium, if it's full, or even near full, gate receipts would be healthy there's no doubt of that.
- PRIDE - Cornish people being proud of a development that exposes the area nationally in a positive light.
- Youth development - to hold cup finals, training sessions in a centralised location would provide incentive to kids in all sports to want to play there and stay in Cornwall to pursue their sport passion.
In short, how can you argue against these very valid points? If you notice, indeed there isn't too much in terms of short term benefit, not money wise anyway especially after the initial costs of building and maintaining. However if you're employing local Cornish people, in my opinion the positives outweigh the negative right there - in an area where work is few and far between.
I think every Cornwall Councillor ought to read the key benefits I've outlined here and try and argue against them - especially before approving Cornish tax-payers money to be used for ANYTHING else.
In summary, I find it a disgrace that certain Councillors can look in the mirror in the morning and claim in regard to this project that they're doing the right thing for the people of Cornwall - I can assure you as a proud Cornishman, they are not. They are merely holding back development in our County which is still desperately needed. This stadium would be a beacon of progress and prosperity in our County - don't hold that back. We need to make sure the voice of reason prevails, get involved in local politics, hold our Councillors to account and do not let certain ones get away with having their own interests at heart!
Onen hag oll an Kernow bys Vyken!