I was on record while I was a Copeland Councillor as expressing my concern at whether the stadium proposals were workable, sustainable, or realistic. And I had the greatest doubts over the ability of Copeland Borough Council under its present leadership to deliver them.
I take no pleasure in being proved right in a way which is humiliating for Copeland and West Cumbria.
This week the backers of the proposal for a stadium at Pow Beck - Copeland Borough Council, Whitehaven Rugby League Club and Whitehaven Amateur Football Club - belatedly admitted that their present plans for a stadium at Pow Beck are not cost effective. Both I and Councillor David Moore, leader of the Conservative opposition on Copeland BC, told them that fifteen months ago.
They have also accepted that it is not possible to deliver the new stadium in time to host planned Rugby World Cup games in 2013. To say that the loss of these games is a disappointment for the area is something of an understatement.
David Moore said this week that
“It is a complete and utter embarrassment. Too many people have chosen to ignore advice, with the result that we have now lost hundreds of thousands of pounds, not only that but two prestigious World Cup matches.
“On numerous occasions I have asked for information to show it would be financially viable and to pull back until proved otherwise.
“We should now start with a blank sheet and have a complete evaluation which would bring back into play the possibilities of moving the project to Copeland Athletics Stadium, which already has fine sporting facilities and room for expansion.
“I take little satisfaction in being vindicated over this but have never wavered from my stance. I have never seen any evidence to show that Pow Beck would be sustainable – but as I say, too many peopled have chosen to ignore advice at some considerable cost.
“Now we have an opportunity to look somewhere else such as Copeland Stadium – but not Pow Beck.”
Copeland's MP described the situation as a "Humiliating shambles." Indeed.
He said that "There’s no place for amateurism in the development of west Cumbria. Those not up to it should get out of the way and leave it to those who know how to do it."
Does this mean that he will be asking his local Labour party to deselect most of the senior Labour councillors for the area?