Hundreds of supporters turned out to a protest rally in Cathedral Square, Peterborough, to gather support for saving the city’s speedway team. The gathering was the next stage of a campaign to try and preserve speedway at the East of England Showground after developers pulled the plug on renewing a lease to Peterborough Panthers.
The showground has been home to speedway for more than 50 years, but the ground is wanted for re-development.
One of those addressing the rally yesterday was Cllr Julie Stevenson, a ward councillor and active supporter to keep a speedway team in the city.
She told supporters that community was the essential ingredient of the campaign.
“There will always be developers to build houses, and there will always be fighting for green spaces but what matters most of all is being able to build communities together,” she said.
Cllr Stevenson added: “Being able to spend time together, able to support each other, able to enjoy pastimes together and I do wonder if these developers have any ideas how communities work.
“When I look out at all of you know, this is a community and I think you do a better job than most developers in bringing people together and we have to fight for that.”
Peterborough Panthers: Fans rally for speedway team with no home https://t.co/RFBuJZ3lda
— BBC Look East (@BBCLookEast) November 19, 2023
Others spoke of the need to “have the track back on track by 2025 at the showground, our home”.
Another spoke of the irony of the showground being sold as “a leisure led development – we want to be part of that leisure”.
Current Peterborough Panthers owner Keith Chapman has removed the speedway track, but a six-person consortium has been put together to see if a new deal for Peterborough speedway can be achieved.
The 165-acre showground could, if plans are approved, include a £50m leisure resort, up to 1500 homes and a hotel.
AEPG says the decision to end speedway at the East of England showground at Peterborough is final and the Panthers would have been forced to leave irrespective of plans for a £50m leisure resort development within the grounds.
In a recent statement they said “significant costs have been borne by AEPG for the last 2 years and previously by East of England Agricultural Society (EEAS), the charity, and these far outweigh any viable rent increases.
“This is estimated to be twelve times the current rent per meet to cover the overhead costs involved.
“As such the decision not to renew the arrangement for running speedway meets would remain irrespective of any planning applications on the land.
“Discussions over the development of the showground have been around for a number of years with the site originally put forward for development four years ago in line with the local plan site allocation.
“The discontinuation of speedway at the showground is not new news or a surprise to the Peterborough Panthers, and we are sorry to hear the club has not found a new home in this time.
“The question has been asked regarding running the speedway until the land sale, however the costs involved in running the site and maintaining the grandstand for the sole purpose of speedway is non-viable for AEPG and EEAS as it would result in continued losses.”
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