Council leader ‘not unhappy’ if Tulips quit Sir Halley

'Agnostic' over Spalding United: South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter
'Agnostic' over Spalding United: South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter

COUNCIL leader Gary Porter claims he would not be unhappy to see Spalding United move out of town – and said officers from the authority would work with the football club to help them have a bigger role in the community.

The South Holland district boss said he did not have a strong view on the club, which was revealed last week to be aiming to develop a 20-acre site on the near the roundabout where the A16 meets the new Spalding to Crowland road.

The club insists that the land is not for a new stadium and that it wants to stay at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field in Spalding town centre and use the land for training and junior football.

Chairman Chris Toynton would even welcome the Sir Halley being turned into a “mini Stamford Bridge” (home of Premier League Chelsea).

Coun Porter said: “I would not be unhappy to see the football club move. I am quite agnostic towards it.

“If they are moving to the edge of the town and are preparing to become a community football club with girls and juniors involved I would be more than happy and our leisure people would try to get as much national money as possible to help.

“Despite not being sporty myself I think organised sport is beneficial.”

The club has a “custom and practice” arrangement with South Holland District Council to use its current home on a season-by-season basis.

Rumours persist in the town that developers are eyeing up the Sir Halley because of its prime location but Coun Porter said the council itself has no plans for the ground, and says he ditched a dream to use it for housing when the recession hit.

Coun Porter said: “I don’t know what other people are looking at but I have no plans myself for putting anything on there.

“I did once think about putting some houses there and pay for the cost of a new park in the town.

“That fell by the wayside because of the recession and it never got much further than that.

“It would have had to have been the right sort of scheme. We aren’t in the right place for the economy any more, the market has gone down the swanny.”

Spalding United will bid for Football Association grants to help fund the purchase of the out of town site.