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Saturday, 30 May 2015

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High hopes for World Cup fixtures

WHITEHAVEN could be lined up for a double sporting celebration today.

Shambles: Stadium plan

News is expected that a deal on the Pow Beck community sports stadium project has finally been sealed and it will be built in good time to stage two rugby league World Cup games next year.

Today the Rugby Football League will be matching up international teams with World Cup teams to play in the chosen venues. Tonga, Scotland and Italy are believed to be the teams who will play in the new stadium.

Champagne flowed some months ago to celebrate selection of the £5.5 million Pow Beck stadium only for it to be thrown into doubt last week over a land access wrangle between the Pow Beck partners and land owners, Whitehaven Miners’ Welfare.

That now appears to be settled with agreement reached subject to legal requirements.

It is hoped a formal announcement will be made today in line with the RFL World Cup announcement, allowing the controversial development to proceed.

It is believed that after long and often contentious negotiations, the Pow Beck stadium partners and the Whitehaven Miners Welfare have agreed financial terms on stadium access and a lease.

A financial compromise appears to have been reached between the £750,000 the Miners Welfare were reported to be asking for stadium access land and the £300,000 which The Whitehaven News also reported had been offered by the development partners.

With a deal still looking rocky towards the end of last week, the Miners Welfare and secretary Brian Birkett were unhappy at being made to look scapegoats.

They were also scathing over how the stadium plans had been stalled and the stadium put at risk.

He said then: “The project is currently struggling because basic project management principles have not been followed. It appears a scapegoat is required and the miners are in the frame.”

No demands had been made by the Miners Welfare.

But from the brink of collapse came an 11th hour rescue.

At the time The Whitehaven News went to press, a high-level legal agreement had still to be reached between respective solicitors before the deal could finally be signed, sealed and delivered.

Paul Walker, chief executive for Copeland Council, one of the stadium partners, said cautiously: “We are continuing to work with our partners to try and reach a deal with the land owners (Miners Welfare) to lease their land for access to the stadium site for both the development and future use.

“While a deal has not yet been finalised, we are hopeful an agreement can be reached in time for the deadlines for the Rugby League World Cup.”

The stadium is one of the British Energy Coast key projects.

Its chairman, Brian Wilson, said yesterday: “We have been pulled back from the brink of a very unfortunate outcome.

“As far as I am concerned there has only been one stumbling block, which was the figure set by the Miners Welfare.”

Mr Wilson thanked Copeland Council for its efforts in helping pull the scheme together.

“I think the council has taken some undeserved flak but hopefully that is behind us and we can get on with a great project for the benefit of this and future generations.”

For Whitehaven RL club, who will share the stadium with Whitehaven soccer club, chief executive Barry Richardson said: “We are optimistic that a solution has been found subject to the legal agreements and recognise the good work by the Miners and the Pow Beck partners to bring things to a conclusion. This development is massive for the benefit of the community.”

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