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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 31 – Depth of Public Feeling Revealed

Mr. Graham Stock representing the interests of Grosvenor addressed the public inquiry.

Mr. Stock explained to the inquiry that Grosvenor were not opposed to the regeneration of Kirkby but the scale of the proposal was unacceptable in planning terms.

Mr. Graham Stock representing the interests of Grosvenor addressed the public inquiry.

Mr. Stock explained to the inquiry that Grosvenor were not opposed to the regeneration of Kirkby but the scale of the proposal was unacceptable in planning terms.

He told the inquiry that the RSS identified Liverpool and Manchester as the regional centres in the retail hierarchy and highlighted the requirement that “developments should be consistent with the scale and function of the centre they related to.

Mr. Stock described the catchment area for Destination Kirkby, identified by the applicants, as inappropriate and in contravention with PPS 6; He said that a fundamental requirement of the policy was that catchment areas should reflect shopping patterns and that it was unlikely that the £200m needed to support this development was available.

Mr. Stock expected the development to have a significant and dramatic effect on the main regional centre, which is Liverpool.

Mr. Patrick Clarkson, QC for the applicants, cross-examined Mr. Stock.

Mr. Clarkson asked Mr. Stock for a clarification of Grosvenor's position.

Mr. Stock explained that Grosvenor did not have a position on the construction of a football stadium; their main concern was the size of the development, specifically the amount of non-food retail space; this would inevitably draw substantial expenditure from Liverpool and as a result would impact their interest in Liverpool One, however he did not think Liverpool One was at risk from this proposal.

Mr. John Barrett cross- examined Mr. Stock on behalf of KMBC.

Mr. Barrett asked Mr. Stock if Grosvenor's assessment of an appropriate catchment area for Kirkby was based on the performance of the current town centre?

Mr. Stock answered that a survey could only show what was happening at that moment in time. Grosvenor wouldn't shackle Kirkby to the current town centre as they did support appropriate redevelopment; but he once again confirmed, “It was fundamental that the catchment area for a development must be appropriate” an appropriate increase in floor space would not be objected to.

Mrs. Wendy Burden asked Mr. Stock about the expected level of “claw back”. Mr. Stock replied that the level would contravene planning policy, as it would have an impact on the regional centre, Liverpool, where Grosvenor had rightfully built their development. He agreed that the current economic downturn would have a detrimental effect on securing the necessary expenditure to service a new development.

Mr. David Dent of the Ramblers Association, addressed the Inquiry.

Mr. Dent told the inquiry the Ramblers Association had existed since 1935 and that he is Knowsley Footpaths Secretary for the association.

He said he thought Destination Kirkby would destroy the good walking footpaths in the area around Valley Road. He thought there were some very pleasant and paths in the area and he thought the pleasant nature of the environment would be destroyed as people would have to walk past the football stadium or through the shopping development to access footpaths to other areas.

He felt the proposal did not confirm to the planning requirement to protect the paths and walkways of an area.

Mr. Stephen Harrison, a local resident, addressed the Inquiry.

Mr. Harrison thought Knowsley Council had changed their approach over Destination Kirkby, originally open minded they changed to supporting just one option, the Tesco plan. He felt that the council had overstated the difficulties surrounding the alternative schemes for regeneration of the town centre.

Mr Harrison described how he had been endeavouring to obtain the release of the full results of the He felt the results of the consultation had not been made fully available to the public by the council; as this was such a major issue it clearly should have been.

Mr. Harrison explained that, in his opinion, Destination Kirkby, specifically the stadium proposal, would overwhelm the towns transport infrastructure particularly the rail network, his main concerns surrounding fans being crush loaded after the games when attempting to travel back to Liverpool; explaining that these problems couldn't be addressed as they were insurmountable.

To counter this statement Mr Barrett for Knowsley Council told the inquiry that Merseytravel and Network Rail had approved the transport proposals – KEIOC will explain more about this interpretation of “approval” a little later.

Ms. Rona Hazelhurst next spoke against the application.

Rona explained that the sheer size of the development appeared inappropriate for Kirkby and that the consultation had failed to make local people aware of how the development would change the town.

Rona was unable to recognise the version of Kirkby as portrayed by the applicants and was extremely concerned that the applicants had failed to reveal details of the exclusivity deal to the inquiry.

For the town she feared the increase in traffic and the loss of greenspace would be detrimental to the lives of Kirkby's residents and she preferred a scheme that would redevelop the existing town centre.

Mr. Chris O'Brien was next to address the inquiry against the proposal.

Chris was concerned about the impact of such a large Tesco on local traders, which he described as struggling to survive. A further concern was the loss of greenspace that he saw as a lovely entrance to the town; he feared that the inclusion of the stadium was little more than a ploy to make the development acceptable.

Mr. John Fleming addressed the inquiry.

John is a local resident, an active member of the Kirkby Residents Action Group and is heavily involved in the local community.

John raised concerns about the ability of the Everton in the community programme to address the real needs of the local community. He felt that this was something of a trade off, the people of Kirkby lost their greenspace but gained a community programme; John expressed his reservations surrounding this trade off, querying that perhaps the money spent on securing this proposal could have been actually spent on the community in a much better way.

Tony Barton, a local resident who is an opponent of the scheme addressed the inquiry

Tony explained how he worked with the young people of the town and why he wanted appropriate progress for his town and his children but not what was being proposed in 'Cherry Meadows'.

Tony described how there appeared to be a complete lack of evidence as to how a scheme of this size could benefit the town's people and that this all or nothing threat was little more than bullying. He said “While Kirkby wasn't perfect it wasn't the dump described by the applicants and the town centre still served the local community in fact if Tesco swallowed their pride and simply built a new store in the town centre it would revitalise it along the lines of the St Modwen plan. What was being proposed was not redevelopment but the development of a completely separate town centre.”

Tony told the inquiry that whilst the people of Walton moved to the area in full knowledge of the presence of a stadium the people of Kirkby did not.

Mr. Ron Martin addressed the inquiry.

Mr. Martin opposes the application and as a pensioner he was aware that many of the town's older population were concerned for their safety if travelling by train on match days.

Mr. Reg Chapman, another local resident, was next to address the Inquiry

Mr. Chapman's concerns surrounded the citing of the football stadium close to the town centre, he explained that its presence would completely change the town on matchdays.

Mr. Chapman was concerned that his town was being portrayed as Beirut and that the stadium would do little to regenerate it.

Whilst he felt that most people wanted more shops and facilities in the town centre they didn't want a development of this scale.

Ms. Lisa Barton addressed the inquiry, she described Kirkby's community spirit and how people felt threatened by this proposed development and that moving to Kirkby had been a once in a lifetime opportunity and that her former school was being destroyed to make way for an unwanted retail and stadium development.

She could not understand why Knowsley Council was opting for this proposal when local people and businesses were trying to improve the situation.

The inspector announced a break after which the evening session would resume with Ms Barton finishing her address.

Ms Barton Continues

Lisa gave her opinion that the council had once again ignored the local residents and that Kirkby rather than being in urgent need of regeneration it had in fact made progress despite the presence of a major supermarket.

Rather astutely Lisa told the inspectors that it wasn't up to the residents to prove their case, it was in fact up to the applicants to prove theirs.

Mr Hammil, addressed the inquiry, he couldn't see how Destination Kirkby would be good for the residents of the town. The associated congestion, increased on match days, would make his journey to work, at the Royal Hospital difficult. Once again a resident pointed out that despite the absence of Tesco, since they last decided to vacate the two stores they once had in the town, and despite the poor depiction by the applicants Kirkby was a good place to live.

Mr Ian MacDonald, of the Independent Blues, an Everton supporters club, addressed the inquiry.

First of all I'd like to thank you all for allowing me to speak on behalf of many Everton fans or should I say customers as we are constantly told that football is a business.

Let me tell you a bit about the background of the supporters group I'm here to represent the Everton Independent Blues. It's been nearly 15 years since we formed our group and in that time our coaches have never missed an away game anywhere on the British mainland even a Friday night friendly game in Yeovil.

In this period we have raised thousands of pounds for such charities as Scope, the Merseyside deaf and blind children, Bowel Cancer and helped many families with sudden deaths of their loved ones.

We are the biggest supporters group on Merseyside. Everyone who travels away regularly to support Everton knows of us.

In my time of following the Blues with this supporters club, I feel qualified to say how the hardcore away fans and many of the match going home fans feel on this move to Kirkby issue.

Speaking of Kirkby I want to go on record and say this area is as much Scouse as any in fact many of many closest friends who I have travelled with for years come from Kirkby and bizarrely guess what every one to a man does not want our club to move to their door step.

Even our chairman's Dad is from Southdene who we buried last year had say no to the Kirkby move sticker on his coffin. Now why do you think that is? It's because they know what's right long term for the club they support so loyally and without much reward these days in silverware won.

I feel like David fighting Goliath standing here but if the ordinary man cannot be heard speak about concerns they have with big business then we may well as all pack in and live in a suppressed society. It's frightening to come here and plea on behalf of so many to do the right thing, I may not be up to the task but I will try my best, and I feel proud to live in a country which allows the ordinary man to be heard. I may be repeating some things you may have already heard in the inquiry from more formally qualified people but I feel the voice of Evertonians needs to be heard regarding a move that possibly could quickly erode our club and fan base.

I'm here talking about Everton FC and it's fans, the fourth most successful football team in England, a club that has so many firsts in the history of the game including being innovative, ambitious, forward thinking and proud. This proposed move has none of these attributes.

I'd like to tell you about the local media unbalance during the voting period to get the nod from the customers to destination Kirkby, Was it right and fair? Now you could say well at least you had the opportunity to vote?

Well over the years previous owners of the club have given a vote on a move to the fans. Even the wrongly vilified Peter Johnson – who many see as having dragged our club into its recent financial problems - gave us a chance to vote .So it's taken as an unwritten given that Evertonians will always have a say on our future homes – we are, after all, the People's Club.

Just before the start of the voting period the Daily Post did its own on line vote for or against the Kirkby move carefully making sure only one vote was allowed per computer. It found that 95% the vote cast were against the move; clearly Everton's PR had to move quickly to ‘win' the fans over.

We were living again with lord Haw Haw at times. Goodison is falling down, they tell us. We will end up playing Marine we are warned, and a front page plea by the CEO of Tesco's to think with our head not our hearts – these are scare tactics in the local press aiming to give the impression that Everton have no other option. It was do or die!

Every time worried desperate fans came with alternatives to this move they where rubbished. Pompously being told that Evertonians who were against the move should come up with their own business plan to keep the club in the city. Well after two years of asking where is the Kirkby business plan? Not the shareholders of Everton or even this inquiry is allowed to see it as in a lay mans term ‘It does not stack up'.

Look at the Brochure given to 33,000 fans that qualified to vote. See the headline banners on the front of the local papers in stark contrast to plan B's championed by fans hidden in the middle pages then rubbished by the club in the same text. Front page news of the Tram system being brought back as an aide to the stadium in Kirkby, another seduction at the time to hoodwink the ordinary fan into believing that this stadium would be easily accessible – something that has been established by this Inquiry already as being untrue.

Fact is since 2002 the price has doubled to 328 million for a tram system to Kirkby from the town centre and as of last year there is no funding available for any shortfall. I did know whether to laugh or cry when I found that Mr. Cannon - an advisor of the Everton board who previously brought an EGM against the same board I might add because of lack of investment in the club, told us we would be relegated if we don't move to Kirkby - is also an advisor to Knowsley council. See the picture with Sheena, Ron and others from Knowsley council. Mr. Cannon has the glasses on in the background. We're in the midst of a financial meltdown, however, so perhaps Mr Cannon can't be blamed for wanting his fingers in as many pies as possible

Tom Cannon

Then I remember seeing the deal Everton made with the Echo and Trinity papers .See copy. The same Mr. Cannon now states that everyone is worried in football about declining season ticket sales next season but go to Kirkby where we need 47,000 to break even. Saddled with a debt we won't be able to pay back. Is it a fact that Trinity papers who print our local papers also sponsor the club print the match day programme and also the magazine ‘The Evertonian' plus now own the Everton official website? See copy

In the past any reporters who do not tow the line are snubbed at the training ground having no stories to fill the blue half of the back page. This is the ‘Peoples club' so famously muted by our present manager .Yep Pravda would be proud of the one sided propaganda emanating from our local press during the voting period, shameful. To the point a delegation of fans had to meet with the editor of the Echo to cry foul, but we are just fans. The propaganda against Liverpool's current owners is in stark contrast.

Yet still after all the misleading information on the voting brochure, you know ‘World class stadium, effectively free, deal of the century, fantastic transport links ‘ All of which after the vote have been found very misleading still 10,000 out of 25000 voters said no. What business would still carry on with the proposed business plan? (Would Tesco stop stocking a product if 40% of their customers voted to keep it on the aisles?) A desperate one, a board who are looking to sell after planning permission to get a fantastic return on their original investment using tax payers monies with ‘free land' and help from Tesco's builders. The move is touted to raise a mere £6m extra income per year for Everton Football Club – yet will double the share prices courtesy of the mysterious £52m cross subsidy at the expense of the taxpayer.

So I ask you who is this move really for .Is it for the fractured fan base, which has been divided with bitter feuds on who is right.

I sat at this inquiry the other week and Mr. McVicar was asked why you question the need for a 50,000 stadium in Kirkby but your employer the Liverpool council was drawing up plans for the same number at the Kings Dock. My answer to this is that we will have a fractured fan base at Kirkby but at the Kings Dock we had 86% voting for with an ideal location to grow the fan base up. Let me tell you fans have fallen out with each other over this issue such is the emotion. In a city whose footballing rivalries are usually divided by red and blue, this stadium scheme has added an extra divide between Everton fans – what business would risk alienating it's customer in such a manner that they vow never to spend a penny with them again?

Emotion, now that s a good word to sum up a fan. Do you get emotionally attached to your food store or clothes shop to follow it anywhere when open the same with your bank, now they are business in the true form football is based on a sense belongingness, a tribal like feeling.

We are told now early in this inquiry that we have 13 million fans worldwide but have no waiting list for season tickets at Goodison? Then it's stated we have a current data base of 90,000 passing trade in the main Evertonians who get mail for new mobile phones, car loans, club merchandise etc but only 33,000 got a chance to vote on this life changing issue. Why was that?

Is it because many of our fans can't afford season ticket lump sums but live nearby and buy tickets on a week-by-week basis? The University of Leicester did a survey of football fans and found that Everton have the biggest walk up support in the top league .Now would those same fans want to walk to Kirkby on a cold and wet November night?

Whilst in Chicago last summer following Everton some of us went to do a tour of the famous Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Fields. A club steeped with as much tradition and history as Everton in the baseball world and again much loved by its local community. When asked by the tour guide for any questions I asked the 100 strong crowds of fans “do you think you should tear this down and move to the outskirts of town “? Well I may well have said all Americans are fat and warmongers. I explained where I came from and what is proposed for our club .The Chicago cub fans said we would regret it, leaving behind your roots and devaluing your tradition .It will not feel like your old club its just big business getting their way thinking fans will just follow. They went on that many sports club moved out of town and now regret it .The New York Yankees are building a new stadium 300yds away in some of the most expensive land in the world .Ask yourself why did they just not move to a cheaper area with a blank canvas?

I've spoken to all the local supporters groups who travel away and none of them want this move. These are the people who have visited Bolton's, Wigan's and Readings ground a look into our future if we move to retail park with a stadium that has no special look or feel to it, described as a IKEA flat pack ground, soulless. In locations similar to Kirkby that are a nightmare to get to and away from.

Many feel so strongly about the move that they will no longer support the team on match day even our previous CEO Keith Wyness said we will lose about 20% of our match going fans .So based on our average attendance over the last three seasons that's 7,000 lost fans but its ok because Everton PR are telling us we will get an extra 12,000 fans so that's an average gate of 40,000 but in their words we need 47,000 to break even.

Now exactly where are these 12000 extra fans coming from? What local research has been done to get this figure? The two million in the Manchester corridor we're told, but many of these will already be supporting Blackburn, Wigan, Bolton or the Manchester clubs sports fans in this corridor are watching Rugby. Only on one occasion in my lifetime have we averaged over 50,000 in 1962/3. Forty five years ago!

It's so worrying that our club just seems to pick figures out of the sky and any request for their evidence to back them up is met by refusal – even at this Inquiry they have refused to give full details of their evidence on the business plan. NONE of these proposals are actually cast iron certainties, it's all written as “suggested / proposed / potential”

But what do our present custodians care, the major shareholders don't live on Merseyside, one lives in London, one in Florida another most of the time in Marbella. A Tesco CEO who tells us he's an Evertonian lives in Potters Bar so will they be here when the fall out begins around the City each week?

Even during this inquiry I see learned people on various payrolls to get this project through telling us what's best for the future of local people .I ask you do they all live here? These people are paid to get in football terms a result.

But many here are fighting against the project at much cost to themselves because they are passionate about where they live or about Everton. Do you find it strange that there is no bodies of fans wanting this move - if the club was truly as precarious as the board want us to believe? If the club “needed” this move or the weight of feeling among the fans was that this was the right move, then why aren't I opposed by a fan spokesman in favour of this move?

We have a song that includes “We don't care what Liverpool say”, but on this move believe me many of us do .In the school yards, the pubs, the work place, Moving to Kirkby is a stick the reds in this City beat us with .At the two recent games against Liverpool their fans were taunting us with chants about leaving the city so they can have it all to themselves, now ask yourself why do they want us to leave our roots and go to a mid range level stadium with so many other negative factors. In a nutshell when we had a proposed move to the Kings Dick waterfront every Liverpool fan I knew was gutted at this quantum leap, now they come to our derby games laughing at us with their Tesco bags and cruel taunts to hurry up and get out of the City.

Because they know that moving to Kirkby will kill 130 years of history, and leave them as Liverpool's only team. Would Liverpool FC ever consider a move to Kirkby to leave Everton as the only team in Liverpool?

May I remind you all we are not a one horse town we have two clubs in this City less than a quarter of a mile away from each other but owners a million miles apart in what is best for their clubs .One hopes to move a few hundred yards from its roots the other nine miles away from the City centre .The furthest Premier League ground away from its city centre is proposed.

Liverpool City centre that has no Everton presence, people who visit our great City especially in the year of the Capital of culture would not know Everton existed. In essence our custodians have already moved in their heads out of the City .I use the word Custodian to describe our ‘owners' in the past these people did what was best for the club long term. But sadly in the last twenty years Everton has been neglected by its owners, not one penny has been invested by the present board; only using money to buy up shares. And there lies are existing problem. Would you neglect your home to the point where you want to move away and build a new home quite inferior to your rivals that will never be considered for any semi finals or a World Cup venue like we had in the past because the design and transport issue are inferior and unworkable. I'm no luddite I accept we have to address our stadium issue sooner rather than later but I keep saying for the long term benefit of the fan base .I would have hired a JCB to dig the footings for the Kings Dock because that at the time was a quantum leap for Everton, the right price the right move.

I'm going to be Nostradamus for a minute and take you to the future of a match day experience for an Evertonian based in the Wirral, North Wales and the City if we move to Kirkby.

If you live on the Wirral you have three choices to get to Kirkby.

The train journey will take you to Moorfields approx time anything from twenty minutes to an hour depending on where you live over the other side of the Mersey then you will have to change line to Kirkby station which has only one line so you must wait as this six carriage train has to go one way at a time.. Queue with hundreds of other blues waiting for the Kirkby train. Miss first one due to overcrowding & forced to wait for the next one. Delayed at Kirkdale for 30 minutes while first train that we couldn't get on is emptied at Kirkby. Arrive at ground for 2.55. Leave seat & join massive queue at Kirkby Station. Manage to get on 4th train, one hour after the final whistle blows. Train journey takes 1.30 hrs & arrive home about 7.30. No pint & no meet-up with mates. Going to the match would become an arduous journey, often in this country's worst weather conditions.

Drive: Leave home at 1.00, driving from Wirral: Extra 20-30 minutes on journey time. Park 45 minutes away from ground. Walk to ground. No time for a pint in one of the very few pubs around the ground. Time spent so far, about 2 hours. Leave seat & spend 45 minutes getting back to car. Drive home is now 1.30 hrs due to traffic congestion. Arrive home about 7.30.

Now, when we play the bigger Southern teams they opt to go by train how will this line cope or will they be put on buses from Lime Street to join the ever bigger traffic towards kirkby .Outside the stadium how will the away fans be segregated from the home fans? We will all have to wait in pens queuing for over an hour at least after the game,'crush loaded' onto trains? In the autumn and winter in the cold and rain with no shelter will not be an experience many will choose to do again especially with children .Is everyone forgetting the none football visitors or residence of Kirkby on match days including night matches. What do these good people do, stay in or not visit the retail venue because of all the hassle?

Transport to the stadium by Bus, well just double the time of the trains, sitting in traffic jams, queuing up for hours after the game again in queuing pens.


And so after putting the fear of God into many fans with the impending doom and demise of our club if we voted no just five thousand more fans trusted our board and what they said. There was NO plan B .The board where given a mandate to explore further the Kirkby move. In the coming weeks and months after the vote it was beginning to unfold that what the fans had been promised was not entirely true .The world class stadium became a mid range stadium, the effectively free stadium rose to a minimum of 75million with costs rising. Tesco stated they were not giving us 50 million to help build the stadium. But it was stated on the local Echo front page as the deal of the century and Tesco where giving us 50 million, see copy. The Best-served transport structure was becoming a nightmare and unfeasible on match days. The extra revenue from concerts etc was not true, they where never allowed in the application. So many things did not add up from the pre vote razzmatazz.

For example Everton's CEO Mr. Wyness said - What we will be providing is "A world class iconic stadium befitting of a club of Everton's stature.

In the planning Application - "EFC knew it could only afford a mid-range stadium"

It was then the Shareholders Associations decide to call an EGM to ask the present custodians questions about what was the real deal and if this proposal would damage he club long term. Surely a shareholder deserved to know what was the devil in the detail on this proposal. Enough shareholders signed the petition for the EGM to be activated .On the night of the EGM being a shareholder I was there to witness a very angry emotional debate where searching questions went still unanswered. Just what is our business plan for destination Kirkby, does anyone in this room know this?

That night again in my opinion we were misled in the amount of monies needed for a alternative plan B of redeveloping Goodison .Two hundred million plus was the figure given to us and yet I have seen two re-developing Goodison plans with sums less than half of this from world renowned architects with a stage by stage rebuilding plan which would not lessen the existing capacity .Oh the figure of 34,000 was given to the shareholders as the capacity with their redeveloping plans. A the end of the night a one man one vote was undertaken and a landslide against the move was found .In the company's articles of association a ‘show of hands' on issues is allowed. Sadly the majority shareholders, the board, would have none of it and undertook a vote based on shares held .The custodians won hands down because of the amount of shares they have. That night we were no longer the 'peoples club' but a club owned purely by businessmen for their own gain in my opinion.

A few days later the board changed the rules of the article of association making it nigh on impossible that further EGM's could be called to question the board .The small shareholders count for nothing now and are suppressed.

There has been no annual AGM; the boards saying the EGM was suffice. Would Tesco shareholders be happy with this? I'm sure there is a law against this but it would be costly to oppose our owners and the small shareholders numbering over 1200 are just in the main ordinary fans

This is a very important factor and issue on the proposed move .We read in the documents that Everton are not looking for any outward investment during the proposed move. And I hope not because if they are looking to sell I believe the owners of Everton will be just carpetbaggers. People who pick the club up on the cheap and instead of protecting the club long term will just sell up if this move occurs using funding from tax payers via cheap land. Then very puzzling I sit at the EGM last year and the Chairmen says he is actively looking to sell and even has enlisted a man by the name of Keith Harris of Seymour Pierce to sell the club on their behalf. So again I ask are we or are we not for sale? If we are then surely this is why the move has been so aggressive for self gain .I would feel better if Everton's present board categorally state we are not for sale and they have an undertaking that they will not sell for the next ten years. So they will see what happens to Everton if we move to Kirkby .If the deal is as good as they told us what would be the problem in writing this into any contract?

If God forbid this move happens what will become of Goodison, we have not been told. Will it be a car park for Liverpool fans, a housing estate? Just what are the plans for our spiritual home? And what of Walton? Will there be loss of jobs? Will businesses suffer? In a nutshell a seventy million pound plus business is moving out of the area with no new jobs in the new location.

What would Knowsley say if Jaguar moved to another council area?

Liverpool council more than at any time will bend over backwards to keep Everton in the city, they will extend the Goodison footprint, the school on Bullens Road is closing, the van garage at the back of the Park End section of Goodison is owned by the council and they can be re-located plus we own Goodison although mortgaged to the hilt. This location redeveloped WILL heal the wounds of this projected move.

The promise of jobs in Kirkby for the local construction industry in my experience in the building trade not many locals work in these projects, Barrs have their own Scottish workers and sub contractors they use around the country.

Many times it has been asked of me if past donations and advisory capacities to the present government by directors of Everton and Tesco will affect the out come of this enquiry

I hope I have transferred the feelings of many here tonight about this proposed move .I am asking you good people to help protect our club from a move that will have horrendous long term implications .I have always said this move is for short term gain with long term pain .We will not grow as a club in Kirkby only erode .Our match going experience will not be a pleasant one with so many obstacles to get too and from the proposed site. Increased prices in a stadium so many do not want .I want you to go away and consider the damage that it will cause to this great institution which is Everton FC .Let a suitable development occur for the good people of Kirkby which will enhance the area, surely a leisure /community complex is better for a town of forty two thousand than a football stadium which will become a white elephant in years to come.

  1. The proposed new stadium isn't in any way outstanding never the promised iconic. See the CABE report.
  2. The move will put the club in debt by a further £70M+ plus an existing debt of nearly sixty million. How do we service this total debt?
  3. There will be major transport problems of nightmare proportions at the proposed site.
  4. There's little or no likelihood that we'll be able to increase our attendances by the 30% necessary to break even.
  5. Prices for games will increase significantly in an accepted low-income area

As regards the voting mandate given by Evertonian's - disregard it .On the glittering tin shown to us was not was we found out later inside it would be cruel to say it was fools gold. The deal of the century in Kirkby for Evertonian's was misleading to say the least.

We are constantly told that this is the only deal so accept it .I for one do not accept this, its bully boy tactics. Being the only deal now on the table does not make it right long term for the club.

You ask Mrs. Burden at this inquiry what harm will be brought by this project, well the good people of Kirkby will feel under siege on match days, the town centre will erode and Everton our club will erode .We will not blossom and grow in this location.

Bring our divided Everton family together and recommend against the stadium proposal, protect our fans against the draconian actions of the present owners who gave misleading information to get their way.

I think most people are happy to move somewhere IF it's the right move There have been very few successful ground moves; Leicester, Coventry, Southampton, Middlesbrough, Sunderland to name but a few were all relegated in the build-up to a move or shortly thereafter. Other opportunities I'm sure will arise for our club to address our stadium whether we move away from Goodison or not .It has to be the right move long term. McDonalds ask only three things when giving franchises' out. Location Location Location, Kirkby is the wrong location for the future fan base of Everton. Its only right for businessmen to increase their share values short term and sell up .I don't think Everton's chairmen is a bad man but in my opinion he is now looking for self gain and to get out of owning Everton with the best deal for himself and fellow board members.

Please help us find the right decision and that decision is to recommend his stadium proposal to be stopped. Don't let good Evertonians have to choose to stop watching the team they love because they feel duped and cheated.

We do need to move. We don't need this move, at this time. Everton would more likely end up in administration than in the Champions League.

In time many Everton fans will thank you if you recommend throwing out the proposal but many Liverpool fans will curse you. I wonder why?

Mr Clarkson QC, for Tesco and Everton FC, cross-examined Ian MacDonald

Mr Clarkson enquired, “How many people are you speaking on behalf of?”

Ian answered that he represents 145 members and confirmed, when asked, that the Independent Blues did have a constitution. Of the members 85% were against the plans to relocate to Kirkby.

Mr Cornwall, another resident of Kirkby, addressed the inquiry.

Mr Cornwall explained that he lives close to the proposed car park, which would be used on thirty occasions a year. He went on to describe how gridlocked Whitefield Drive used to be when they held events at the old Kirkby stadium and that the road system was still the same. He feared that Destination Kirkby could leave to a surge in crime in the town.

Mr Degier, a local resident, addressed the inquiry.

Mr Degier opposed the plans, as they would have a negative impact on the health and lives of the town's residents.

Mr Harrison, yet another local resident, addressed the inquiry.

Mr. Harrison was amazed that the applicants and the council had promoted the town as “finished” he also questioned the role of Mr. George Howarth MP by suggesting that he hadn't listened to the views of all residents when supporting Destination Kirkby and that Mr. Howarth's description of the “vocal minority” was the “vocal majority” who are against this application.

He couldn't see how the people of Kirkby could benefit for a development of this size and that rather than it being the deal of the century for Everton fans it was the deal of the century for Tesco due to the land giveaway by the council.

Mr McCormick, another local resident, addressed the inquiry.

Mr. McCormick explained to the inquiry that he did not recognise some of the claims being made by the applicants, Kirkby certainly didn't appear to be under performing to him.

He felt that the threat of no regeneration in the existing town centre unless retail park was a success would see many people who had originally supported the proposal turn against them.

Mr Abbott, a resident of Kirkby, addressed the inquiry.

Mr. Abbott told the inquiry that whilst he was in favour of regeneration of the town centre, it should not be at the expense of greenspace. He explained that their was a danger of residents becoming prisoners in their own homes.

Mr Rimmer, another local resident, addressed the inquiry.

Mr. Rimmer is employed at Sonae UK, he felt that the proposal to close roads around the stadium could have a detrimental effect on the timekeeping of Sonae employees and possibly the 27,000 people employed in Kirkby Industrial Estate. Mr Rimmer recited a poem about the proposal.

Mr White, the final Kirkby resident, addressed the inquiry.

Mr. White appeared to support the inquiry; he informed the inquiry that Everton had never played in Everton and therefore he couldn't understand people when they said they wanted the club to stay in

The Inspector closed the evening's proceedings until tomorrow.

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