Hardy speaks of disappointment

Last updated : 16 November 2007 By The Chairman
Alan Hardy spoke of his disappointed over the Council decision to reject the redevelopment plans for Boundary Park when he told the official website, "To say a cloud hangs over Boundary Park this morning is not an understatement after the fiasco at last night's planning meeting. The diabolical decision taken by the committee beggars belief. This is the culmination of four years of hard work, with our planners working hand-in-hand with the Council's over the last twelve months."

"We carried out two traffic assessments. The Highways Agency said the figures produced by the first one varied from their own, so we paid to have another one done which proved the first set of figures were correct. The Highways Agency accepted this. The club has had meetings with the chairman of the planning committee, Steve Bashforth and ward councillor Phil Harrison, together with the residents. Bashforth openly stated there was no reason whatsoever why the application should not be approved. He led us down the path of believing we had done everything right. The planning officers recommended the scheme, and these people are highly-paid professionals who know their job inside out."

"But people who work during the day in jobs which are maybe not as highly paid, and who are, no disrespect to them, not as highly qualified as the people they are supposed to take advice from, have to sit down in the evening and rule on what is best for Oldham as a town. Look at the situation we're faced with in Oldham. It's evident this town is going backwards. Look at neighbouring areas like Tameside and Rochdale, who are making great strides forwards. Tameside has a cinema, a bowling alley, Marks & Spencer and Ikea, whereas Oldham has none of those things. Rochdale has the wonderful Kingsway Business Park coming through, whereas we have the Broadway Business Park which is still fairly dormant and is still not completed after 15 years in existence."

"Where is Oldham going? I ask you that question, where is Oldham going? These councillors who make the decisions haven't got the town at heart. They are more concerned with losing votes and picking up their meeting expenses. We've been deceived by two people, Steve Bashforth and Phil Harrison. It's going to be difficult for the club to pick up the pieces. We've got owners who have put a lot of money into this club and who have spent a lot of time and money putting this planning application together. As I've said before we worked hand-in-hand with the Council and were led to believe we'd done things right. Bashforth said there was no reason to turn it down. But he sits there in his high chair at the meeting and says he cannot believe the traffic assessments put together by professionals. It's mind-boggling."

"Two senior planning officers were there last night, and tried to explain to the councillors that the traffic figures given from the Highways Agency and the independents were correct and that there was no reason to disbelieve them. On that basis, the application should have been approved. We've all got to stick together at this time. The directors will be meeting later today to sit down and reflect on what's happened. I've used some strong words here and I'm feeling quite emotional at the moment because it's a big decision. I hope I don't get myself in trouble, but at the end of the day certain things have to be said."

"We have to say what we're thinking, unlike other people who don't do that when they come to meetings. We try to be up front all the time, to be positive and to tell the truth, and some people don't do that. The most important thing is professional sport in this town and Oldham Athletic. The development we had planned would help to take both the football club and the town forward, but it's clear Oldham Council don't want that. They have seen the death of Watersheddings (Oldham Rugby League Club's old ground, closed in the 1990's), and now they could see the death of Boundary Park."