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The fight for Ingleborough field will continue - Dean Johnson
THE lead campaigner behind the fight to save a war memorial field says he will continue his drive if the scheme is given the go-ahead.
Plans to build almost 100 homes at Ingleborough Road playing fields are set to be given the seal of approval by Wirral’s planning committee next week.
The controversial project would see Tranmere Rovers selling off their former training ground to make way for a new housing estate.
However Dean Johnson, who has campaigned against the proposals, said he is prepared to take legal advice concerning special restrictions placed on the field.
The land, which housed the Birkenhead Institute and is now a memorial to the school’s WWI fallen soldiers, is protected by a covenant which states it cannot be used for anything other than sports and leisure.
The local authority said any request to remove the covenant would have to be negotiated separately with the council.
But Mr Johnson said he is keen to campaign further to stop the restrictions being taken away, especially in the run-up to the centenary of WWI.
He said: “If permission is granted then Tranmere Rovers and Wirral Council have broken faith with the fallen heroes who are remembered there.
“It is the actions of morally bankrupt organisations and come the centenary of the beginning of World War One, the shame they have brought on the town will reap a whirlwind of bad publicity for Wirral.
“The covenants are still there but we will start preparations to keep them in place by really continuing the campaign as we head towards 2014’s centenary when the awareness of WWI is going to be so acute and we will also seek legal advice on keeping the restrictions.”
The scheme, which is recommended for approval by planning officers, goes hand-in-hand with a parallel application to revamp Woodchurch Leisure Centre creating new state-of-the-art training facilities for use by the club and the public.
A legally-binding order attached to the submission would ensure that building cannot begin at Ingleborough until the centre is radically improved with new office suites, two training pitches, a floodlit all-weather synthetic pitch and four junior football pitches.
Tranmere Rovers Supporters’ Trust, who have voiced their support for the plans, says the new-look centre would "deliver enormous benefits" including state-of-the-art sports facilities for generations of young people, much-needed housing provision and a host of jobs.
However Dean has hit back at the Trust’s recent claims that the proposals for both Ingleborough and Woodchurch would create a “lasting legacy “ for future generations.
He said: “To say that all residents are in favour of the plans is simply not true – it is far from unanimous. They do not want it but they are scared to disagree for fear that they will become neighbours of a floodlit training ground.
“It is not fair or right to say that Tranmere Rovers have the backing of all local people.”
The council’s planning committee will make their decision at Wallasey Town Hall on October 25.