ON READING the comments made by David Walters in the Hastings United official match programme under the chairman’s report, I am extremely annoyed at the obvious ingratitude and untruth in his comment: “Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has given nothing to its senior football club.”
In the past two years, HBC has contributed rate relief, about £12,500 towards the new flood lights, and paid upwards of £5,000 for an appraisal and investigation on how the Pilot Field can be redesigned to update it.
The cost estimate of which might suggest it is better to start for scratch on a new site.
As lead councillor for sport and leisure when Peter Pragnell was leader of the council, I made enquiries into how the town could provide a new football stadium.
There was never a suggestion of a financial input from Mr Walters, who wanted us to sell the Firs and spend the money on his stadium. His only offer was a 69-year full repairing lease.
A valuation of the Pilot Field and Firs produced a total figure for both that was considerable less than the minimum cost of a new stadium on land by HBC.
Mr Walters claims to be a business man. He purchased the Pilot Field with full repairing lease for less than £40,000. The low price must have indicated that other costly expenditure was to be expected. Today I believe there are £40,000 outgoings each year on salaries.
I understand there is a group of people in the town who want to buy Mr Walters’ shareholding in Hastings United, invest their money and make it a vibrant and successful club again, with a community interest base.
If it is such a problem to keep up the conditions of the lease, and other necessary expenditure, I suggest Mr Walters sells his share, moves on and lets others have the chance they crave to really make something of Hastings United and the Pilot Field.
COUNCILLOR PETER FINCH