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 £2.6m Scarlets ground loan backed

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Mr007
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PostSubject: £2.6m Scarlets ground loan backed   Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:40 am


Artist's impression of new stadium at Pemberton
An artist's impression of the Scarlets' proposed stadium
Councillors in Carmarthenshire have agreed to lend the Scarlets £2.6m to help pay for a new £23.1m stadium.

The rugby club said delays and the cost of fighting two public inquiries had left it with a £5m shortfall.

Council leader Meryl Gravell assured members the loan would have no impact on services or council tax.

But residents who had fought the plans claimed the authority had gone back on its word that council tax payers' money would not be used to fund the ground.

Opponents objected to 450 homes being built on the club's existing Stradey Park ground, which has been sold to developers to pay for a new 14,340 capacity stadium at Pemberton.

Scarlets chairman Huw Evans told the meeting: "The reality is that we have sold Stradey - there's no going back - houses will be built on the site regardless."

He reacted angrily to claims the regional rugby club had been "mismanaged" and said it was the protesters' fault that the club had to seek a council loan.

Stradey Park
Two public inquiries have been held over homes planned for Stradey

He said directors had put in millions of pounds of their own money and the club was one of the most successful in Europe, despite having one of the lowest wage bills.

After almost four hours' deliberations councillors finally voted 44 to 6 in favour of granting the loan, subject to a number of technicalities.

Objectors had threatened to seek a judicial review if the council made the loan but chief executive Mark James assured councillors any decision they made would be "legitimate, legal and lawful."

Speaking after the meeting, Richard Roper of the Stradey residents action group said: "I think the councillors have made a decision based on emotion rather than hard headed analysis of the situation.

"Council tax payers' money is being used to fund the stadium - we were assured that would not happen.

"I think we have expressed the concerns of a lot of people in Llanelli."

At the same meeting councillors also endorsed the findings of a public inquiry which had ruled all the land at Stradey could be built on.

Nearby resident Alun Davies had applied to have two training pitches bordering the ground designated a village green to prevent them being built on.

But barrister Anthony Porten QC, who conducted the inquiry, had recommended the application was rejected.

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