Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Council's anger over Labour's Race Course stance

Redcar and Cleveland Council's leader Councillor Eric Empson has today condemned the Authority's Labour opposition for its "irresponsible" stance against Lord Zetland's vision for the future of Redcar Racecourse.

And Councillor Empson is calling on the Council to expel Labour from the membership of its multi-party Redcar Racecourse monitoring group.

Councillor Empson expressed his concerns as a question and a motion were delivered for debate at a meeting of the Council at Eston Town Hall on Thursday, November 30 which clearly breaks the Group's mandate to be an information-gathering forum first before making any decisions.

Councillor Empson said: "We have not decided to support a move to Dunsdale because we don't know the facts - and neither does the Labour Group leader Councillor George Dunning.

"We are behaving as all responsible politicians should behave, doing our best for the town, and until all the facts are known and we have a proper opportunity to talk to Lord Zetland, no-one knows the negotiating issues.

"However, we are being constantly bombarded by Councillor Dunning's irresponsible behaviour, which is blatant electioneering. In my view, it can have only one outcome - Redcar will be left with nothing and there will be no new course, either, because Lord Zetland will become completely disenchanted with our Council.

"So I believe it is time to act and say, We did believe the Labour group could act as a responsible opposition, listen to the facts, start a sensible debate and move forward. But they are absolutely incapable of doing that so the sooner we eject them from the monitoring group the better. And I can assure everyone that Councillor Dunning's motion will not succeed on Thursday."

Councillor Dunning's motion says: "This Council is concerned at statements made following the emergency general meeting of the Redcar Racecourse board on November 3, in particular that new board chair, Lord Zetland, is committed to future closure of the current Redcar racecourse, development of this whole greenfield site and proposed relocation of racing to a mega-course on green belt land at Dunsdale, near Guisborough."

A question from Councillor Mark Hannon to Councillor Chris Abbott, Cabinet Member for Housing and Neighbourhood Renewal, asks: "Can he explain why he is supporting the relocation of Redcar racecourse to Dunsdale when it is a successful community facility, which is improving in its racing programme, improving its financial performance and improving its diverse range of activities for the surrounding community and neighbourhoods of Redcar."

Councillor Abbott retorted: "The antics of the Labour councillors could lose us racing in Redcar forever. We lost the opportunity of top-class motor racing at South Bank some years ago because of their dogmatic, head-in-the-sand attitude.

"21st Century spectators demand first class sporting facilities. The present arrangements will not sustain racing in Redcar much longer. We must keep our nerve and remain open-minded. We have to be more ambitious for Redcar and welcome the opportunity to discuss ways to keep racing local."

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