Local residents share their anger over Walton Hall Park ground move proposal
Outrage Over Everton FC Ground Move Proposal
Local residents have shared their anger with officials of Everton FC and Liverpool City Council as hundreds gathered to voice their concerns about a possible Everton FC ground move at the Lifestyles sports centre in Walton Hall Park.
Although the details of a new stadium for Everton being built as part of a regeneration project for the park and surrounding area remain very sketchy, furious residents who attended the initial public meeting were quick to share their opinions on the potential development plans.
Amongst the concerns shared by local residents were worries about house prices, traffic and congestion, anti-social behaviour and loss of green space.
Speaking to JMU Journalism, Hayley Stanton who lives nearby the 130 acre park said:
“I used to live in Andrew Street, which is right next to Goodison Park. I saved up my whole life savings and even sold my car to move away from Everton’s stadium because of the trouble around there.
“Now they are planning to build this stadium outside my house again. If I wanted a stadium next to my house, I wouldn’t have moved.”
Another local resident, Rachael Sweeney, who is a regular user of the park’s facilities was concerned about the loss of green space if the club’s and council’s proposals were to be delivered.
“I’ve heard all different amounts about how much of the park they would take,” said Mrs Sweeney. “Someone said that 40% would still be ours but it’s not right that they can take 60% off us.”
“My husband fishes there every day and I take the grand kids around on the weekend. If there was a stadium here, there would be litter and trampled-on grass – there wouldn’t be a park.”
While Everton FC officials were keen to point out to residents that no firm plans have as yet been set out, they joined the council in underlining the possible benefits if a proposal were to go ahead. These include 1,000 jobs, and the possibility of another 1,250 jobs during construction.
Everton FC CEO, Robert Elstone, who was keen to point out how the proposals for a ground move are at a very early stage, said: “It has been clear tonight that there is some nervousness about what might happen in Walton Hall Park and we understand that any potential changes will create that kind of concern.
“Local people want to know what could be happening and, although we don’t have all the answers, we thought it was important to come and share what we do know and, more importantly, to listen at this early stage.”
Meanwhile, Everton FC’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Richard Kenyon, stressed the need for the football club to listen carefully to the views of the local residents who would be affected by any future new stadium and regeneration of the area.
“The reason for doing this event tonight was to listen to what people have to say,” explained Mr Kenyon.
“We need to get a feel for what the local people think and what they may or may not want from any possible scheme.
“The people who were invited tonight were the people who live immediately around the park – it was important that we listened to their views first.”
Further consultation meetings are expected to be announced shortly and the representatives of Liverpool City Council gave assurances that all the views of local residents would be listened to and taken seriously by both them, Everton FC and other potential partners in the scheme.
Deputy Mayor of Liverpool City Council and local ward councillor Ann O’Byrne told JMU Journalism:
“We will listen to everyone. I am a ward councillor for this area and this meeting is about us listening to our residents.
“If people are worried about house prices or traffic, then that is what we will take into consideration. There is potential here to improve the park and I’ll make sure that happens.”