FAMILIES with misgivings about Barnet FC’s training ground are invited to talk tactics with their local MP.
Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East, has organised the public meeting to discuss concerns about The Hive Football Centre in Camrose Avenue, Edgware, at whose new stadium The Hive the club’s first team will play next season in the top tier of amateur football.
Mr Blackman said: “We are working with residents to get the best result possible.
“I’ve arranged the meeting because we don’t know what decisions were being taken, and when. This is not competing with the residents’ association meeting last week but is complementary. We can discuss what the council are doing and why they are doing it, and we want to give the residents the opportunity to raise points before we decide on a course of action that needs to be taken.”
Issues to be debated include the legal position of whether the club’s lease with Harrow Council allows it to play professional football there in the event the club are promoted back up to League Two, the bottom rung of professional football, in the future.
Then there is the stadium itself and the deferred retrospective planning application to enlarge some of the stands and increase the floodlights height from the specifications approved in 2008 among other alterations.
Attendees are likely to want to discuss if the club is adhering to the stringent hours of floodlight use proscribed by the same planning consent. Neighbours of the football centre have been unhappy at the disturbance from amplified sound, as highlighted by the Observer a fortnight ago, and are worried what match days may bring to the area in terms of noise, nuisance and traffic.
Likely to feature on the agenda is the club’s recent application to vary the stadium’s premises licence to serve alcohol in all four stands up to a minimum of 1am and to allow outdoor entertainment.
Mr Blackman, who ahead of the meeting has asked Harrow Council for clarification on the planning, environmental health and legal issues, said: “The council needs to be much more transparent about what they are doing, or not doing. No-one knows what’s going on and so the residents are understandably aggrieved and even if it’s bad news for them, at least tell them what has happened.
“The whole thing really is a mess, and we are trying to make sure everyone knows what the position is.”
Barnet FC will host pre-season friendly matches at The Hive stadium on July 13, July 20 and July 27 against, respectively, opponents to be decided, Ipswich Town and MK Dons.
Anthony Kleanthous, chairman of Barnet Football Club, said: “Our lease requires us to provide community football, which we do and we do that very well. Now I am not aware of us breaching our lease, but if we are doing something wrong, we are happy to put it right.
“We have meetings with residents every two months, and we are here to work with local residents. We are in touch with Harrow Council all the time and if there is ever a problem, we have put it right.
“We have been very successful here, and we want to build on that.”
Harrow Council said the planning permission for The Hive does not prevent its use for league football, but if Barnet FC is promoted to NPower League Two, they will need to agree a variation of the current lease with the council.
A council spokesman said: “The council is committed to listening to its residents and we are aware that some people in the Edgware area do have concerns about the Hive. Council officers are currently working closely with councillors and the local community to resolve the issues that have been raised as quickly as possible.”
n Mr Blackman’s public meeting about The Hive Football Centre takes place at Canons High School in Shaldon Road, Edgware, on Tuesday, June 18, at 8pm.