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Council leader: I'm not ignoring Heathens
4:57pm Friday 15th March 2013 in Sport
THE Leader of Dudley Council has forcefully rejected claims he is ignoring Dudley Heathens speedway bosses.
Club chiefs reacted with disbelief to reports councillor David Sparks was eager to meet with them to discuss plans and possible sites for a new track in the borough.
The Heathens claim to have wanted talks with cllr Sparks since last May, when plans for a new stadium at Castle Hill were first unveiled.
But club chairman Nigel Pearson says the council leader has not offered “ten minutes of his time.”
Cllr Sparks has now hit back, saying he is not aware of any attempt by the Heathens to arrange a meeting.
He said: “They are talking absolute rubbish.
“The situation is I have had numerous meetings with lots of people on lots of subjects.
“I cannot recall any letter or any email from them asking for a meeting.
“All they have to do is to contact Dudley Council and suggest some dates.
“The suggestion I am avoiding a meeting with them is nonsense.”
Cradley Heathens were left without a home when their old Dudley Wood home was sold for housing in 1995 but the team reuturned under the Dudley name in 2010 and race at Wolverhampton, where they regularly attract crowds upwards of 1,000.
The proposal at Castle Hill would have seen the Heathens share a stadium with Gornal Athletic Football Club, with the development funded by the sale of the latter’s current Garden Walk home.
Cllr Sparks ruled out a stadium at that site but re-iterated he was still keen to meet Heathens bosses.
He said: “It would be really good if we could find a permanent home for the Heathens in either Dudley or Sandwell.
“As a council we fought tooth and nail to keep the speedway stadium at Dudley Wood. We were unsuccessful.
“We then looked throughout the borough for an alternative venue.
“There is no chance of putting a stadium at Castle Hill.
“If they come up with a suggestion we will look at it seriously but having a speedway track next to a zoo was never going to work.”
Cllr Sparks’ claims the Heathens had not approached him were refuted by Pearson, who said he had been in frequent contact with council officers hoping to arrange a meeting.
Pearson said: “I’m stunned.
“At no point has he even offered us ten minutes of his time.
“Ever since ours plans for Castle HIll were revealed last May we have been speaking to his officers.
“Now we see this. I find it astonishing.
“All we are asking is for the opportunity to sit down with with him and hear his views. Let’s have a chat.
“We need Dudley council to tell us if there is any way forward or if we are wasting our time.”