These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. After a mere 24 years we finally won promotion to the Southern Premier, just 7 leagues below the Premiership. I’ve been supporting Slough for 34 long years, and despite moving to Brighton still go to most games. Still waiting for that bloody new ground in Slough tho.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

POLITICAL FOOTBALL

Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Chalfont St.Peter on Saturday 18th January 2014. We won 5-1 in front of 269 people. 
 
Whenever I feel down about our club every playing in Slough again, I think of Maidstone United. The old club went bust in the Football league in 1992 with a new Maidstone quickly re-born and playing in the Kent County League Division Four! It took 20 years for them to get their new ground, with numerous legal disputes and even a colony of Great Crested Newts looking to scupper their plans. When permission was finally given it still took 8 years to kick the first ball there. But now look at them go at the top of the Ryman Premier. Playing in their new state of the art 3G pitch their crowds went up a staggering 450% in their first season of their new ground, averaging 1,698 in the Ryman South! They are now spending £50,000 on expanding the stadium after just one season to accommodate more fans.
When we move to a new ground, we need to get it right with mixed facilities that build a long term future for the club. I have every faith in our chairman and management committee to get this right but the continuing uncertainty over Arbour Vale does no-one any favours.
So with the news that South Bucks conservative councillors decided to unanimously reject the Sikh school staying at Pioneer House what now for Arbour Vale? Under free school rules, the school was allowed to move to an empty Pioneer House for a year without planning permission. That time will be up in July. So will they appeal or look for a new home and will the government say that their new home should be Arbour Vale? And will the council take the government to court if that happens?
Of course the local Tories are being hypocritical – the free school free for all is their own governments flagship programme. But of course they don't like it when these national decisions come to bite them on the bum on their own doorstep. Especially when we all know what the elephant in the room really is. Just ask yourself this – would the genteel folk of Stoke Poges be so up in arms if it was a Catholic free school?
This government has told a load of old flannel about devolving powers and letting local people decide what's best for their area. Forget that free schools can over-ride educational authorities and planning laws. Schools can be handed to a private company even if most parents don't want it and schools can be plonked where they want and bugger the consequences. And as the National Audit Office pointed out, they aren't exactly value for money either.
Not only that, but free schools have been rocked by forced closures, heads under investigation for financial mismanagement, female teachers being forced to wear the hijab, schools teaching creationism, and able to employ people who aren't trained as teachers. Every week it seems there's another sorry story to tell. But its the segregation of children on religious grounds that worries me most and in Slough every free school seems to for a specific religion. Now you just need to look at Northern Ireland to see what a successful policy of separating children by religion turned out to be.
In the meantime our club gets used as a political football; which is kind of ironic really when if built, it will be one of the few places in the town that has the potential to bring all of Sloughs multi-cultural population together.
So for us ageing rag-tag dads rebel army, we have to keep calm and carry on. In between sucking on our oxygen masks, we must continue to cheer on the team and try to remember how to chant S L O U G H T O W N But maybe now its time to dust out that old classic we had hoped to have binned 'All we want is a football ground in Slough.'

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'local tories' as you put it, backed by many others, have not objected to it because it is a 'Free School' and are not fighting the concept or policy of free schools. This is a PLANNING issue. A big school in a small village without the traffic infrastructure to support it just doesn't work. It makes much more sense to locate the school much closer to the community that it is designed to serve and somewhere with good transport links.

I do hope you get your ground but that shouldn't be at the expense of Stoke Poges. I am sure there are lots of other suitable locations for the school, Slough Council should hurry up and sort this out.

2:27 pm

 
Blogger Karen Mitchell said...

All of your thoughts on localism and Free Schools are the reason SP are fighting against the location of the KSA (or any other school). KSA is a Slough school for children from Slough and West London. So why do you feel that SP are racist?

3:50 pm

 
Blogger Karen Mitchell said...

Your thoughts on localism and free schools are exactly the reason SP fight against the KSA (and now Lynch Hill). Based on this, why do you think SP are racist?

KSA and Lynch Hill are being placed in an area wiyh surplus school places and that are unsustainable from a traffic perspective.

Both schools were created by Slough for Slough children and should be accomodated in Slough. Slough, however, can only find space for business and housing (despite beng given an additional £30m by National Government for school places shortfall). Is that right? Attract more people to live in the borough, but not provide the services?

4:00 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... A club that has practically no following. A club that is being treated favourably because two councillors support it.

Squandering tax payers money on it when there is no need to.

4:28 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well actually the residents of Stoke Poges would be 'up in arms' if it was a Catholic school, as religion has nothing to do with the school issue as far as the residents of Stoke Poges are concerned. Although that may not be the case on the school side. The'issue' is the imposition of a school on the village when there has been little or no consultation with the residents, and there is no need for a new school in South Bucks. But i guess it depends whether Slough council feels football or education is more important in their area as to what happens with Arbour Vale.

5:31 pm

 
Blogger brighton rebel said...

For the record I am against religious free schools because I think segregating children on the basis of faith is a recipe for disaster. But free schools are a major policy for the Conservative government, so blame them for this mess.
Arbour Vale was planned years ago. It won't cost the taxpayer a thing as the Housing Association buidling on the site will pay for it.
What the football club will do, in contrast to any religious free school, is bring people of all faiths, class, ages together in supporting the towns team (1,500 when we played Mansfield in the FA Cup last season). But it wont just be about Slough Town football club but giving excellent sporting facilities for everyone.

7:33 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Racist NIMBYs are these lot in Stoke Poges. The Farnhams have hardly objected to Lynch Hill and that is being built on proper green belt.
Hardly any signatures on the petition. No big meetings. No big demonstration to Dominic Grieve etc etc

Give us Arbour Vale. We need a proper football ground.

10:53 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment that both schools were 'created by Slough' is so wide off the mark it's incredible. FOI requests clearly show that the decision to approve the initial free school bids were entirely DfE without any discussion with SBC. Furthermore, SBC recent policy document (on the internet) clearly shows that they do not support any new selective, faith or single sex schools precisely because they types often don't serve kids from Slough.

1:19 am

 

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