Wakefield Trinity to take stadium battle with Council to High Court

Wakefield Trinity are heading to the High Court in a bid to settle their dispute with Wakefield Council and the proposed new community stadium in the city.

A five-year battle for a new stadium in the city looked to have reached a breakthrough in September, when all parties including the Council and the owners of Belle Vue agreed to redevelop the stadium as opposed to building a new site in nearby Newmarket.

However, Trinity officials walked away from that deal recently when they refused to agree to the Council’s terms in regards to rent – which it is understood was in the region of £500,000 a year.

And, in a statement issued to League Express, owners Michael Carter and Chris Brereton said they have no choice but to head to the courts to settle the matter.

They said: “The reason we are in the present predicament with no security of tenure for the future of Wakefield Trinity and its new Super League Stadium is entirely the fault of Wakefield Council.

“Six years ago, after three weeks of evidence, a Public Enquiry paid for by the ratepayers of Wakefield, concluded that a Community Stadium compliant to Super League standards should be built and funded by the planning gains which accrued to the property developer of the Newmarket site adjacent to the M62.

“It was the duty of Wakefield Council, as the Local Planning Authority, to ensure that in return for the land coming out of the green belt, the Community Stadium was constructed.

“The developer has its planning consent, but not a brick has been laid on the Stadium site. We simply require the Council to fulfil its statutory duties.

“The Council now seeks to lay the blame for the mess which it has created, at the door of Wakefield Trinity.

“It should be borne in mind that a Labour controlled council has managed, as a result of the planning consents obtained by the developer, to line the pockets of a property speculator and has neglected to enforce the planning obligations due to its ratepayers, the Community at large, and of course, Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Club.

“The current proposal that we pay a commercial/reasonable rent (of which we have yet to see any detail or figures) for the new Community Stadium at Belle Vue is unacceptable.

“There is a legally binding obligation for the Council to provide a 99-year lease at a peppercorn yearly rental to the Wakefield & District Community Trust.

“The Trust in turn would create a lease to Wakefield Trinity, as anchor tenants, at a nominal rent to cover the Trust’s operating expenses.

“Wakefield Trinity would then enjoy the rewards from the Stadium, but would also be liable for all associated risks in operating a Stadium. This was and remains entirely acceptable.

“Unfortunately it is obvious from the attitude adopted by Wakefield Council that they are not prepared to help us secure the long term sustainable future for the Club. It was and remains entirely within the Council’s power to compel the developer at Newmarket to deliver the Stadium.

“We are now preparing our case for presentation to the High Court. For reasons we know you (the fans) will understand.

“We have waited since June 2012 for the Council to deliver Newmarket Stadium. We are no nearer today then we were then! We have a duty to our fans and the City of Wakefield to ensure the long term survival and success of the Club.

“We will not be deterred by the unhelpful bullying by the Council and the developers at Newmarket or Belle Vue. We have no mandate or authority to accept anything less than the Community facilities promised at Newmarket on the legally binding terms set out in the Public Inquiry Planning decision.

“The findings of the Public Inquiry are a matter of public record. Do not rely on our interpretation of them. We have nothing to hide.

“Look for yourselves at the results on the government website. You will see where the blame lies for this farcical situation.

“The club has been used as a Trojan Horse to secure planning gains for property developers which are worth millions of pounds and take land out of the green belt.

“Meanwhile the bargaining chip used to obtain the consents is nowhere near delivery.

“Finally, there are times when there is no alternative other than to stand and fight to enforce what we know to be our rights for the future of our great Club – Wakefield Trinity rather than to see it sacrificed on the altar of the Council and Developers greed.”