Public support for the return of speedway to Peterborough will be put to the test on Saturday November 18 with a protest rally in Cathedral Square. The demonstration of support will begin at noon and with speeches due to start at 1.30om.
Demo organisers say they have received pledges from The Mayor of Peterborough Cllr Nick Sandford and the prospective Labour Parliamentary candidate for Peterborough Andrew Pakes, to deliver speeches in support for Peterborough speedway.
The rally is in response to the decision to end speedway at the East of England showground which had been their home for more than 50 years.
It means Peterborough Panthers remain without a home for next season unless the showground owners change their mind or an alternative venue can be found.
Local councillor Julie Stevenson has been fighting on behalf of speedway and posted to Facebook that she was “knee-deep” in planning for the rally “and those risk assessment forms won’t write themselves! See you there”.
She is angry over the planning applications that have been submitted to re-develop the showground and especially wants the site’s operators, Asset Earned Power Group (AEPG), to re-visit the decision to close the track.
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.
Cllr Stevenson, an independent councillor for Orton Waterville, added: “I would argue that finding a solution to the Panthers’ plight is ‘in everyone’s interest’, not turning what was once a thriving showground into a giant car park. Keep fighting, Panthers’ fans.”
Mick Bratley is a member of the consortium bidding to keep speedway at the showground and says, “it’s been our home for 53 years; we’re not looking to find a new home, we want to stay at the showground.”
He says public opposition to both planning applications by the site developers have been overwhelming.
Urging more to object he added: “Keep it up, it’s making a difference and raising eyebrows in places where they need to be raised!”
The 165-acre showground could, if plans are approved, will 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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