Millwall welcome shelving of CPO – but want formal announcement

MILLWALL have welcomed today’s compulsory purchase order developments – but have asked for Lewisham Council to make its stance “unambiguously clear”.

In a statement today, Lewisham Council mayor Steve Bullock called for the CPO process to be halted in light of concerns raised by the club over the future of their youth academy and the Millwall Community Trust.

Public pressure has been building on the council in recent weeks, with cabinet member for housing Damien Egan issuing a statement calling for the New Bermondsey scheme planning application submitted by property developer Renewal in 2011 to be re-examined.

Also this week, 45 of Lewisham’s 54 Labour councillors backed calls made by the chair of their scrutiny committee, councillor Alan Hall, for an independent inquiry into the scheme.

Millwall, however, have pointed out that the council have made no “formal announcements” and want an independent review of the entire process.

In a statement, Millwall said: “The CPO threat has been hanging over us, our community scheme and our local friends and neighbours for far too long. The Mayor refers to it having started in February 2016, but that is incorrect. CPOs were agreed in principle by the Cabinet in 2012, and the New Bermondsey CPO item first appeared on the Council's 'Key Decisions' list in the summer of 2014 and remained there.

“Today's statements are not formal announcements by Lewisham Council. They are expressions of views by the individuals concerned. We hope that they will become formal Council policy, but until the Council makes its position unambiguously clear, we cannot be sure.

“The Mayor chose to become a member of the board of the Surrey Canal Sports Foundation and, as he has made clear, has no powers nor involvement in the CPO decision. Therefore, we call on the Council as a matter of urgency to make a formal announcement and to confirm that the CPO process has not just been suspended but formally withdrawn, removing the threat that has hung over all involved since 2012.

“At the same time, we insist that Lewisham Council proceeds with the independent investigation into all aspects of the process to date including, but not limited to, the Surrey Canal Sports Foundation and the claims about its funding that have been repeatedly made since 2014. It is essential to restore credibility and trust. This must be a recognisably independent review with no involvement from the Council's Chief Executive, Mayor or Cabinet.

“Millwall Football Club has always supported the regeneration of this area and has offered to play its part. We make it clear that we remain ready to participate in a scheme in which we are, in the Council's words, at the heart of any proposed redevelopment and which will appropriately benefit the club, its community scheme and the people and businesses of Lewisham.”

John Kelly