Threat to users of land at racecourse

It is with some interest, and not a little concern, that I read the article on page five of last week’s Warwick Courier; in fact some of the wording seems indicative of the type of ‘press release’ issued by Warwick Racecourse in the past.

A reading of agenda item 11 of the executive committee meeting for December 12 indicates that the council officers are in favour of the committee approving that WDC spend £6,000 of council money supporting Warwick Racecourse in making a case to diversify away from racing and into other activities, possibly at the expense of other organisations, (see below), and yet the possible further erosion of the open access space currently available to the people of the Warwick District area and also visitors.

Consider what WDC has already contributed, financially, to Warwick Racecourse. Over the past ten years about £3,000,000 has been spent, by WDC, improving facilities for Warwick Racecourse, including providing a new stables and an accommodation building, tarmacked car parking for race officials, trainers, etc. and reducing the flood risk at the southern end of the race track. It is understood that the money was to be recovered, over time, by increased rental yet, at the past and future, (given in the agenda appendix), rental terms, it could take WDC over 100 years to recover that money.

This does not seem a good investment by WDC yet it now seems to want to provide more funding to a large thriving national company, the Jockey Club, of which Warwick Racecourse is part.

Without going into detail in this letter, a close examination of Para. 3.5 of the item 11 on the agenda wants the appraisal to look into the “potential uses within the centre of the racecourse”. i.e. land currently open access to all; and acquiring area of land currently leased to others.

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Whilst the “others” are not specified they could include Racing Club Warwick, the Warwick Band location and the Warwick Golf Centre. That does not bode well for the youth movements that support local people, or those residents who want to enjoy a game of golf without having to join an expensive golf club.

Perhaps it would have been better for WDC to commission their own report into how best the once “common land of the people of Warwick” could be utilised for just that, the benefit of all Warwick District Council residents, rather than how it could be utilised to provide greater profit margins for just one company.

Also, if total diversification does take place it is possible that racing, (which is limited to a maximum of 28 days in any year by an Act of Parliament to prevent the exploitation of the open space), could well cease to exist anyway. - Peter Kerr, via email.