Heels dug in over Mrs Caddy’s Field
Building there still an option, admits football club as locals vent their fury in public meeting
VIRGINIA Water Football Club says building a new ground on green belt land that is currently home to the Egham Royal Show is still an option, despite growing opposition from residents.
Up to 130 people were at a stormy public meeting at Manorcrofts School to hear chairman David McBride outline the football club’s proposals to build a stand, floodlighting, a clubhouse with bar, changing rooms and parking for around 170 cars and coaches on Mrs Caddy’s Field.
Mr McBride said the club was due to hold a meeting this week to consider its options after listening and taking into consideration all of the comments.
“We continue to have an obligation to local residents, the council, the youth of today, and the future,” he said.
“Mrs Caddy’s Field is still very much our preferred option, but not our only one.
“But one thing is for sure, doing nothing is not one of them.”
The 19-acre site has been the home of the Egham Royal Show for the past 15 years.
Chris Fisher, of the Egham Residents’ Association, said he is more optimistic the club’s plans to move from its The Timbers ground in Crown Road to Whitehall Lane are now dead following one of the angriest meetings he has ever been to.
“It was the biggest public meeting I’ve seen in Egham for getting on for 20 years,” he said.
“David McBride was given quite a kicking.”
He added: “He could hardly get any momentum going at all and was constantly being interrupted.
“It was absolute bedlam. I think it left Mr McBride in no doubt what the mood in Egham is.”
Runnymede Borough Council held discussions with the football club, as well as Virginia Water Scouts and the Egham Royal Show, in February about their plans for the prized 19-acre site.
Mr Fisher has criticised the council’s handling of the situation, claiming the field was offered as a possible solution to the club’s ‘frustrated ambitions’.
“It will be a slap in the face for local opinion and democracy in Egham if the scheme still proceeds to a planning application,” he said.
“The message of ‘Not on Mrs Caddy’s Field’ from the Egham public can barely be clearer.”
The proposal will now go to the council’s Community Services Committee for consideration on Thursday June 16.
Paul Turrell, chief executive of Runnymede Borough Council, said: “We at the council noted the very strong reaction of a large number of Egham residents to sporting facilities on Caddy’s Field and we have therefore decided to look at potential alternative sites and discussions have already started.”
Concerned locals pictured at Mrs Caddy’s Field in February.