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Maidstone Town Hall

Williams urges council to free up the freehold

Stones chief executive Bill Williams has written to members of Maidstone Borough Council’s Policy & Resources committee urging them to free up the freehold of a two-metre strip of scrubland next to the Gallagher Stadium.

The committee meets tomorrow (22 November) to reconsider a decision to offer a 99-year lease rather than sell the land.

In the letter, Bill expresses the club’s disappointment that after negotiating the purchase of the freehold in September 2016, the deal was subsequently withdrawn after several months of toing and froing.

Last month, the council’s Heritage, Culture and Leisure committee opted for a leasehold disposal, as per a policy that was written after the freehold sale was withdrawn. The committee has deviated from its policy recently, selling off land in Staplehurst.

The club have outlined numerous reasons to the council for wanting the freehold, many of which were covered by Terry Casey in his statement earlier this month.

Writing to those who will make the decision on Wednesday, Bill said: “To be clear, the scrubland is intended to be used as an access way for spectators linking the north and south ends of the stadium and giving access to the back of a future West Stand development. This could be in the form of a modest seated stand, within our boundary, which is currently flat-standing.

“This development is essential if we are to realise our ambition of bringing league football back to the town. Who would have thought we’d be saying that just five or six years ago?

“This football club has well and truly put Maidstone on the map.

“This Wednesday you have a genuine opportunity to show support and trust for your town’s football club at no cost to the town by simply agreeing to sell the freehold interest in the strip of land to us.

“We’re not trying to pull a fast one, we’ve already said we’ll agree to an overage deal on any future profitability in the event of a sale of the stadium.

“Don’t do it for me, don’t necessarily do it for the two men who’ve invested £5 million into your borough – do it for the thousands of people who play, train and watch games at the Gallagher and for the town centre businesses that benefit from additional footfall.

“The land means nothing to you and everything to us. Please, please do the right thing and grant us the freehold.”

If you would like to support the club’s bid to free up the freehold, you can email the committee members:

Terry Casey will be speaking at Wednesday’s meeting. Fans are invited to come along to Maidstone Town Hall in club colours from 18:40, ahead of the meeting which starts at 19:00.

Places in the council chamber are limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. An adjoining committee room, which will have an audio feed, is restricted to 40 people.

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