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Gloucestershire Business News

Forest Green Rovers chairman accuses Stroud MP of ducking meeting over proposed stadium

Dale Vince has accused Stroud's new MP of avoiding a meeting with him to discuss the planning furore surrounding Forest Green Rovers' proposed new stadium.

Planning permission for the 5,000 stadium at the so-called Eco Park adjacent to junction 13 of the M5 motorway was granted - at the second attempt - before Christmas.

An earlier application was refused by Stroud District Council planners leading a furious Vince to appeal the decision.

Since the December decision, a number of parish councils local to the proposed development, and Nailsworth Town Council have raised further objections to Eco Park.

They have requested that the secretary of state of housing, communities and local government 'calls in' the application to decide once and for all if it should be built or not.

Stroud's newly-elected Conservative MP Siobhan Baillie has said that an "independent assessment of the application is the best way to proceed" following the see-saw by Stroud planners.

She has also said that while the final decision is that of the secretary of state alone, she has asked for any parties with things to say to contact her by writing to discuss their concerns.

Mr Vince took her up on that offer and last night blasted the new MP for the response he had received for his request to talk things through.

Writing on facebook, Mr Vince said he had suggested meeting the MP to discuss "potential mitigations or just to get a better understanding of the project.

He added: "I got a response at the weekend saying that Siobhan will 'bear in mind' my offer to meet.

"I was surprised by that and disappointed and wrote back to say so. Eco Park is major project that could being considerable benefit to the District and as our new MP I honestly expected that she would want to meet to discuss it.

"I got a further response last night to say that I had misunderstood her first response, that she does not yet have an office in Stroud and has urgent case work to do and will 'bear in mind' my offer to meet.

"I think it's clear that I did not misunderstand. Our new MP does not want to meet."

Mr Vince had previously claimed in a New Year's Day interview with BBC Radio Gloucestershire that the matter had become political because of his support for the Labour party in the general election.

On Facebook he added that he doesn't understand why the MP doesn't see it as an urgent issue, given the wider benefits that the scheme wuill have.

"I don't know the nature of the urgent case work or why the lack of an office should prevent a meeting or why the threat of a 'call in' of this project is itself not seen as an urgent issue by our new MP.

"I don't understand that.

"Eco Park as a whole is a £100m project, not just for a world class piece of architecture, an all wooden stadium by Zaha Hadid for a local football club aspiring to the Championship.

"But also for a green tech business park with the potential to host 4.000 jobs in the green economy (that will be essential in the fight against climate change) and will play a key role in the completion of the Stroud canal project - the missing mile.

"All of these will bring significant benefits to our District. It has been five years in the planning process, passed every hurdle and scrutiny and been approved by our local Planning authority.

"And it's under threat from our new MP and government for reasons unknown."

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