A HOBBY group which has been going for 15 years fears for its future as the fate of its ‘airfield’ hangs in the balance.
Warren Farm Radio Flyers, a not-for-profit group of model aircraft enthusiasts ranging from teenagers to the elderly, uses Warren Farm Sports Centre in Southall and say there is nowhere else suitable to practice their aerobatics.
The council is currently inviting bids from private investors to renovate the site, which has fallen into disrepair.
Southall Football Club has put in a bid and Queens Park Rangers have also shown an interest, with a view to using the land as a training facility, and the Radio Flyers believe they may be left high and dry if an outside investor takes over.
Club chairman Bob Howard said: “If we lose the right to fly at Warren Farm, we have nowhere else to go. Our activities will cease altogether. Our club has been flying at that site on an almost daily basis since 1997, and we have established a good relationship with local residents, council officials and other users.
“There are no other model flying sites in the borough, and there is no land suitable for a new site to be established.”
The group pays an annual licence fee to Ealing Council to use the site, and the authority has promised to take their needs into consideration when making any decision on the site.
Mr Howard said: “The council has assured the club that the needs of the current user groups are to be taken account of, and are to be safeguarded as far as possible, and in the event of any development proposal, all user groups should be consulted.
“However, our fear is that the wording is so vague that any developer could easily override this condition, or increase our costs to an unsustainable level. To date, only one prospective bidder has offered a verbal assurance that the future of the club is safe.”
Mr Howard said neighbours and other users of Warren Farm have expressed support for his group and a website has been set up for anybody who has any concerns over the proposals.
The bidding process is now closed and Ealing Council is due to decide on a bid sometime around June.
Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “I’ve met with Mr Howard and spoken to him when he came to a recent scrutiny meeting regarding Warren Farm. I listened carefully to what he said. I’m very supportive of what they do and I hope to be able to go down there and see them in action.
“The criteria is very clear that there has to be continued community use at the site and when making our decision we will be looking very closely at these issues so that groups like Radio Flyers can continue to provide the service that they do.”
Visit www.wfig.org.uk for more information.