DALE Vince has slammed Stroud’s MP for her lack of support towards his football team’s new stadium.

In a post on Facebook, the entrepreneur behind Ecotricity and owner of Forest Green Rovers criticised Siobhan Baillie’s attitude to the Eco Park project.

Plans for the new 5,000 seat wooden stadium were approved by Stroud District Council last month. 
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, Mr Vince said he hopes it will be “the world’s greenest stadium”.

He also said it would bring employment and investment opportunities to Stroud.

But a question mark still hangs over the proposals after a request for the Secretary of State to ‘call in’ the application was made by a number of local organisations and residents.

‘Calling in’ refers to a process whereby the government looks at a planning decision made by a council, and decides whether to overturn it or not.

Mr Vince said that he was keen to meet with Ms Baillie as she had opposed the Eco Park project during the election campaign and has supported the idea of it being ‘called in’ by the Secretary of State.

“I assume Siobhan has some specific concerns about the project and suggested meeting might be useful, to discuss those, potential mitigations or just to get a better understanding of the project,” said Mr Vince.

“Eco Park is major project that could bring considerable benefit to the district and as our new MP I honestly expected that she would want to meet to discuss it.

“I got a further response to say that I had misunderstood her first response, that she does not yet have an office in Stroud and has urgent case work to do and will ‘bear in mind’ my offer to meet.

“I think it’s clear that I did not misunderstand. Our new MP does not want to meet.

“I don’t know the nature of the urgent case work or why the lack of an office should prevent a meeting (I have an office) or why the threat of a ‘call in’ of this project is itself not seen as an urgent issue by our new MP. I don’t understand that.”

Commenting on Facebook, Ms Baillie said: “I did not refuse a meeting with Mr Vince as suggested. I explained that I was not ruling out future discussions but I could not offer any dates at the moment.

“At this time, I have no further information about the planning matter and in any event, the decision as to whether to ‘call in’ the application is not with me. It is with the Secretary of State.

“For the avoidance of doubt - I have not lodged objections to the stadium.

“A number of councils and councillors have asked for the most recent planning decision to be ‘called in’.

"I have supported this.

“I also believe an independent assessment of the application is the best way to proceed.

“While this may take more time, a project of this scale that will last a lifetime, together with concerns being raised in both Nailsworth, Eastington and other communities, the applicants desire to have a successful new stadium and the great pride that I and others feel about FGR football team - I believe it is worth the effort and wait to receive an answer from the highest level.

“In those circumstances, all communities will hopefully be able to find a way to live peacefully with the result whatever happens.

“Whether the matter should be ‘called in’ and if so, what the final decision should be rests with the Secretary of State as I have explained.

“Please note that if I do meet Mr Vince/the applicants in the future, I will ensure that I meet with the groups/residents opposing the application.”