Cradley Heathens News Archive
2004 - 2007
16th Jan 2004
STADIUM SITE PLANS MOVE FORWARD
Plans are moving forward in a
fresh bid to relocate Cradley Heath Speedway in a new site, situated in the
neighbouring area within a few miles of the Heathen's former home of Dudley Wood
Stadium. An area of land has been identified and a sale price has been agreed
with the land owner to purchase the plot, with a view to constructing a purpose
built speedway stadium. A set of drawings and costings has been commissioned
with regard to a new stadium, involving all the major parties still pursuing a
return for the famous club.
Bob Edwards, on behalf of CRASH, and Tony Mole, a prospective new promoter, have continued to work tirelessly behind the scenes and hope that the latest site will prove to be the breakthrough that supporters have been waiting for. There is still a long way to go, but hopes are that Dudley Council can be persuaded to support the plans. Although, there are no guarantees, Bob admits 'We are still looking and taking things forward", but the new site in question will not be revealed for fear of the deal collapsing due to outside influences.
Meanwhile, Heathens legend Bruce Penhall has been keen to hear about the club's continued plight and tells the web site team 'If I won the lotto, I would have bought Cradley in a heartbeat'. No doubt the double World Champion will be mighty dismayed to see the current state of his former track, should he get the time to drop by on his forthcoming flying visit to the UK.
21st Jan 2004
STADIUM SITE PLANS CLARIFICATION
Latest news of our continued
search for a new home track has reached far and wide this week as Heathens fans
continue to support the return of the sport to the area, but some of the facts
should be clarified regarding the recent progress made by people working behind
There are two possible sites in question at the moment, which have been pursued for some time regarding their suitability and availability as a location for a new speedway stadium. An agreement has been reached with the landowners of one site, whereby it could potentially be purchased for use as a sports stadium, should it be made suitable for the purpose. Unfortunately, planning permission for this site is a huge stumbling block, and plans cannot proceed any further until there is some change in circumstances or judgement. A second site is deemed far more suitable, and the go ahead to use it for speedway or other sport is far more likely. The landowners however, are not currently willing to sell or lease the land for this purpose.
At the same time, a set of costings and drawings have been commissioned to assist a detailed site search in the area, in liaison with Sport England. These are of a general nature and not in relation to any particular site or stadium location.
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7th March 2004
TIME CALLED ON CRADLEY HEATH SPEEDWAY LIMITED
The company which last promoted
speedway at Cradley Heath will shortly cease to exist. The directors of Cradley
Heath Speedway Limited have recently taken the agonising decision to begin the
winding up process, eight years after the club staged it's last official
Technically, the principal business activity of the company was that of 'operating a sports stadium', something which they have not had the chance to do since the closure of Dudley Wood Stadium and the subsequent season which was staged at Stoke's Loomer Road venue. Les and Dave Pottinger and fellow director Tim Rowe formed their partnership ten years ago which kept the club alive, even after the stadium owners' controversial sale of the Heathen's home track. But with no income and an annual payment of several hundred pounds required to compile and submit the company's accounts, only to summarise that no activity has taken place over each preceding twelve months, it is felt that time must now be called on the business.
While the news will appear initially unwelcome to Heathens supporters, the move may prove to signal the end of one era and the beginning of another. Workington promoter Tony Mole has, for some time, been one of the leading lights behind the scenes in searching for a venue to revive the club in a new location. Whilst the purchase and acquisition of planning permission for a new site has so far remained elusive, there have recently been fresh signs of optimism in the ongoing fight. Should a suitable piece of land now be found, the way would be clear for the Kidderminster businessman to take on the sole promoting rights for a new Cradley Heath Speedway.
Meanwhile, good progress has been made on the production of a healthy business plan, which will be presented to Dudley Council and Sport England, showing exactly how the club can be financially brought back to life. Sport England have agreed to aid the search for a new location, instigated by Bob Edwards on behalf of unrelenting Cradley supporters. A spokesman for the organisation said "We want to see the Heathens return because they are so well supported and are of regional significance. I am sure if we search enough, we will find a suitable site for speedway".
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22nd May 2004
'RETURN TO RACING' BUSINESS PLAN COMPLETE
Cradley Heath supporters group, CRASH, and long-serving spokesman, Bob Edwards, have this week formally completed a Business Plan to demonstrate the viability of Speedway racing returning to the local area. The document was requested by both Dudley Council and Sport England in a meeting with CRASH last year and remains crucial in securing the continued support of both parties in taking forward a detailed site search of the area.
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27 Aug 2004
NEW STADIUM BUSINESS PLAN MOVES FORWARD
The 'Return to Racing' Business Plan, which sets out the future of any potential new stadium for Cradley Heath Speedway, has been resubmitted to Sport England. Following suggestions by the organisation, amendments have now been made to include training facilities and further community involvement in the reborn club.
Bob Edwards, who has taken the main responsibility for producing the lengthy document, explained: 'The main thing that we had to address was what we could do to provide training facilities for youngsters who wanted to take the sport up. I have had lengthy discussions with BSPA Under 21 Manager, Peter Oakes. They are currently developing a Speedway strand of the ACU Academy which will concentrate on 11 - 15 year olds and provide them with all they need to know on sports psychology, training routines, nutrition and dealing with the media and sponsors. The youngsters involved will have access to the superb facilities at Lilleshall.
Meanwhile, further thought has been given to the assessment of noise if/when a new site is located. Bob has written separately to Mark Limbrick regarding the matter. 'Up to this point Dudley have said that they will use BS4142 which is a standard used to measure the impact of industrial noise. It is designed to deal with 24 hour a day industrial noise comparing it with the "normal" background levels. It featured at the Dudley Wood Inquiries as a way of measuring the noise from Kimber's drop forge. It is clearly not appropriate to our kind of noise which lasts for a few minutes a week. A number of Councils, including Birmingham, have already said they would not use it and we hope that Dudley will agree alternative methods of assessment with Tony Mole. It will be a major step forward if we can make progress on this issue.
GREEN LIGHT FOR NEW SITE SEARCH
As the tenth anniversary of the closure of Dudley Wood Stadium approaches, the green light has been given to step up the search for a suitable site to rehouse the Heathens. CRASH (Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens) have committed a substantial four figure sum to engage a consultant who will carry out a detailed professional site search to find a site which developers can take forward.
The crucial support of Sport England has been obtained, after the organisation approved the business plan for the reintroduction of speedway to the area. Now the continued support of local people is being called upon to swell the list of suggested sites that can be examined. A list of around 40 locations has been retained, most of which have previously been presented to the local councils, however these will be added to any new sites for further examination. CRASH estimate that any potential sites will need to be around 7 to 10 acres and anyone having a suggestion for a suitable venue should provide details via the website at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Edwards, on behalf of CRASH said, 'We hope that our continuing discussions with Sport England may lead to additional help and funding and we want to act now to identify as many options as possible for the consultants and the Council to consider. Key to that aim is asking for suggestions from local people, who know this area better than anyone.'
David Lanfear of Sport England added 'We are anxious to ensure that the future of the sport is protected and wherever possible look at positive ways to resolve the loss of provision. Since the loss of the speedway site we have been impressed by the level of commitment shown in reinstating one of the regions premier clubs.'
If you know of any site which you feel could
accommodate a new stadium then send whatever details you can to the dedicated
e-mail address. The list will be collated in readiness for a consultants
examination of present and future availability.
31st March 2005
Sadly Cradley Legend Ivor Brown passed away on Wednesday 30th March following a heart attack.
Ivor joined Cradley in 1961 following the closure of Yarmouth, he quickly became Cradley's number one and one of - if not the greatest star of the Provincial League.
During his 8 years in Cradley colours Ivor won almost everything the Provincial League had to offer, he topped the league averages in 1961 and 1962, in 1963 (probably Ivor's best year) he held no fewer than 6 track records!
Unfortunately he suffered terrible injuries to his back following a crash with Ove Fundin at the Internationale at Wimbledon in 1965, he was never the same rider after this agonizing crash.
Ivor was born in the village of Wymswold in Leicestershire where he lived all his life, he was the village postmaster and ran the village store.
Ivor's funeral will take place on Wednesday 6th April - 2.00pm at St Mary's Church, Wymswold, Leicestershire. Any Cradley supporters wishing to pay their respects will be welcome at the service.
The will be no flowers but donations accepted for the Coronary Care Unit, Nottingham Hospital. These can be sent to Swan Funeral Directors, 4 Bridge Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire.
Rest in peace Ivor, thanks for the memories.
CRASH RESPONSE & SITE SEARCH UPDATE
Supporters organisation CRASH have responded to the comments by Dudley Council leader, David Caunt, and provided an update on the positive search for a new speedway site in the local area.
Spokesman Bob Edwards explained; 'The reason that we have never been an "in your face" campaigning group is that Dudley Council's Chief Executive Andrew Sparke spoke to us very early on and stated that they wanted to work with us to identify a mutually acceptable site. They were very conscious of the level of public support (a 32,000 name petition for starters) and aware that they could be seen in an unfavourable light if they had to reject a planning application. Since then we have conducted ourselves in a very professional manner and supporters have been extremely patient in keeping their frustrations under control.'
The council made several stipulations, all of which have been addressed. CRASH were told; to find a credible backer - and did so by enlisting developer and promoter Tony Mole; to prepare a business plan - which was completed after nine months of hard work; to acquire the support of Sport England - which has been successfully achieved along with a grant of £7000; and lastly to employ consultants to carry out a professional site search. This final requirement is currently about to get underway, following a meeting held yesterday.
Providing a progress report, Bob continues: 'The actual site search has not started yet but there has been plenty of activity in terms of setting everything up. We are planning to engage Checkleys from Birmingham who through one of their partners, David Tomlinson, have already given us a great deal of help in formulating the Business Plan. David is a Speedway Supporter and followed Cradley for several seasons before we had to close. He has also worked on speedway related projects elsewhere. In addition we will be using the services of Alastair Skelton of Steven Abbott Associates from Wigan. This Company are Sport England's planning experts and hold a database of all sport related planning decisions arrived at over a number of years. Alastair also represented Sport England at both public inquiries regarding Dudley Wood.'
'With limited funds, it is essential that there is no costly duplication of effort so a meeting was held on 6 May to ensure that all parties are aware of their respective roles in the exercise. We believe we have sufficient funds to analyse all the relevant regional and local guidelines, conduct the search, raise options with the relevant Council and challenge any decisions that we are not happy with. The suggestions coming through have been a big help. There are some old chestnuts there (and there is no harm in revisiting them), but also some options that have not previously been examined. A big thank you to all who took the trouble to respond.'
'The Council have already agreed to invest officer time in meeting our consultants and helping with the search. They have also agreed to change the way that they will evaluate noise by dispensing with guideline 'BS4142'. Crucially they are committed in their UDP to "encourage and facilitate" the development of a Stadium in the Borough. Councillor Caunt's comments are totally out of step with the progress that has been made with his officials and the commitments the Council have already made. Over the coming weeks we will be contacting Mr Caunt's planners to introduce our consultants and hope that we can overcome this totally unwarranted outburst and pick up the pieces to resume the professional links that we have worked hard to establish.'
6th May 2005
DUDLEY COUNCIL DISGRACE
The leader of Dudley Council has angered Heathens fans and the wider speedway community this week with the shock publication of comments about a potential return for the Black Country club.
Councillor David Caunt has labelled speedway racing as a bad neighbour and slammed current hopes of finding a new site for the sport in the Dudley borough. Showing himself as completely out of touch with his own council and local population, as well as having a gross misunderstanding of the facts, he also told the Halesowen News that 'There is no way that the speedway track at Cradley Heath can be re-instated - it has planning permission for housing', referring of course to the former Dudley Wood stadium which has long since had houses erected.
On the present and future prospects for the
club, the councillor continued; 'The last I heard of this group [CRASH] is
that they were looking for a new site and having been doing so for the last
few years I doubt if they will find one. In the past they have had the help
of the Planning Department but have failed to find anything suitable. I have
not received anything from them for quite some time and certainly not had any
lobbying e-mails in the last couple of years.'
'I suspect they have little hope of now getting back in business. If they find a site then they will have to get the money together for the development of it and get planning permission. I can imagine the uproar that will break out once they apply as they could never be described as good neighbours.'
Most Cradley Heath fans will recognise that the necessary finances are in place to develop a new stadium, backed by promoter Tony Mole, and the funding has been secured to facilitate a consultant-led site search of the area in association with Sport England, which is due to get underway imminently. Bob Edwards responded first on behalf of supporters to point out that Dudley Council had helped to draw up a business plan to prove the reintroduction of the sport would be viable, adding that Councillor Caunt was 'out of touch with what his people are doing'. Even the Unitary Development Plan drawn up by the council supports the reintroduction of speedway as a high profile sport to the area and the same council recently agreed to a change in the way noise was measured for speedway racing to support future planning applications.
As Councillor Caunt claims not to have
received any communication from speedway fans recently, perhaps implying a
lack of interest, you may wish to politely remind him of your views at the
following email address:
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13th June 2005
SITE SEARCH DETAILS
The long-awaited consultant-led site search for land on which Cradley Heath Speedway can potentially be resurrected, is now about to get underway. The process is being jointly funded by Sport England and supporters group CRASH (Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens) and is widely viewed as 'make or break' time in the ongoing campaign to see the Heathens back on track.
Bob Edwards, acting on behalf of CRASH has worked with potential developer and speedway promoter Tony Mole, as well as the professional consultants who will be employed to carry out the search. He explains for the web site: "We have decided to engage Steven Abbott Associates, who are Sport England's Planning experts and who represented them at the two Dudley Wood Planning Inquiries, and Checkleys, who are Birmingham based Surveyors with experience of Speedway related projects. The aim is to start the exercise on Monday 20/6/05 with a view to completion between the end of September and mid October."
The search itself will comprise four elements:
1 Steven Abbott Associates
will examine all the relevant national, regional and local planning guidance
and provide a report outlining the likely advantages and disadvantages of
pursuing various lines of enquiry. This information will be fed through to
Checkley & Co.
2 Checkley & Co will then conduct the site search and raise any options identified with the relevant Council and obtain their feedback
3 Steven Abbott Associates will remain contracted to CRASH to carry out further investigation on any sites turned down and to submit further more detailed representations to the Councils concerned where required.
4 Both Consultants will work together to provide a final report which will, hopefully, identify sites that can be taken forward.
Two lengthy preparatory meetings have been attended by all parties, in order to avoid duplication of effort and unnecessary fees. The opportunity was also taken to examine the list of all sites already identified, including those suggested via this web site. The latter has been helpful in targeting a number of specific options and wider search areas for further investigation. If there are any final nominations for sites however, there is still time for them to be considered. Send your suggestion to the email address: email@example.com
With a final note of caution,
Bob has added: "One thing to bear in mind is that it would be very unwise of
us to give any site specific information in any updates on the web site as
it would either alert other developers (and you don't have to guess too hard
who I mean here!) to what we have found or it may highlight our options to
owners who may try to exploit the situation in any negotiations. Having,
said that I will try to provide some information as the process unwinds.
Time to cross our fingers and hope. You can rest assured that the
consultants will be giving it their best shot."
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1st July 2005
COUNCIL & SUPPORTERS REACTION TO YORK PARK SITE
27th June 2005
NEW SITE OPTION FOR SPEEDWAY
10th July 2005
HEATHENS FANS GATHERING AT OXFORD
14th July 2005
HEATHENS ON SKY TV!
Cradley fans were prominent on the terraces at Cowley and had a good
plug from Jonathan Green with Kelvin Tatum in Sky TV's studio and with
Tony Millard and Steve Johnston commentary.
They all praised the Heathens fans for their fight to keep the club alive and delved well into the history of the club talking of Erik, Jan O Pedersen, Bruce Penhall, Lance King as well as Billy & Greg.
Well done to everyone who went, shame Billy picked up another injury though.
8th September 2005
HOPES DASHED FOR YORKS PARK SITE
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3rd October 2005
HEALTHY DISCUSSION AT COUNCIL MEETING
A meeting was held at Dudley Council House at the end of September to discuss the site search, how CRASH’s Consultants, Checkley & Co, will liaise with Dudley Council in the coming weeks and what is required from both sides to make meaningful progress. The meeting was attended by Andrew Sparke Chief Executive of Dudley Council, plus several other planning and regeneration managers at the council and Councillor Dave Tyler. Tony Mole and Bob Edwards represented the hopes of speedway fans, along with David Lanfear of Sport England, while consultants from both Checkleys and Steven Abbot Associates were also involved.
Bob Edwards explained, "With the consultants, developer and Sport England all present, our determination to take this forward in a professional and structured manner and the investment we have made in achieving a solution was clearly demonstrated. The meeting lasted over two hours and there was a good deal of productive discussion and positive outcomes that may help in achieving a succesful conclusion."
All parties acknowledged the part that Cradley Heath Speedway had played in the history of the Borough and the positive role that it could play in the future in helping to provide a focal point for the community. All acknowledged that there was no perfect site for Speedway in the Borough, and Bob Edwards pointed out that, to be successful, we will need the Council to make a positive decision in favour of sport, supporting our need against whatever counter arguments there may be in terms of planning designations. In the past, the Council had been very protective regarding certain land designations within the Borough. They said that they were now prepared to take a more flexible view in some locations, if circumstances permitted. This is helpful in widening the scope for Checkleys’ search.
The Council agreed to contact neighbouring Sandwell Council (another of our key search areas) and set up a joint meeting with Checkleys to help clarify the areas where the search may be most productive. They also agreed to review some of the decisions they had taken previously to establish if anything had changed, which would allow a more flexible approach. A number of specific sites were discussed and throughout the meeting there was lots of positive comment, with both sides making positive offers that will help the position of the other in terms of agreeing a solution.
There have been instances in the past where everything proposed has met with a complete rejection by Dudley Council. It appears promising that this meeting was far more positive than that and it is hoped that all parties can now work together successfully to achieve a result.
30th October 2005
SITE SEARCH GOES FULL STEAM AHEAD
Bob Edwards updated the gathered Cradley fans at Club CH's Spirit of '95 Evening with the latest developments in the ongoing site search for a new stadium location. With the consultants process well underway and constructive dialogue opened with Dudley Council, there was a positive feeling to the news. Dudley Council have promised to review all of their previous refusals of the 40 sites, suggested in the past by CRASH. And furthermore, having looked at a variety of new and old potential sites, there is a growing confidence that a planning application will be submitted at the end of the consultants work. The exact site of first choice depends on further progress still to come, but at least one potential piece of land has been identified. There is now some emphasis on Dudley Council to assist in either finding somewhere even better, or to support the future planning development with the site already identified.
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30th October 2005
Last night, Club CH staged the 'Spirit of '95' evening at Dudley Sports and Social Club. The event was a great success with all tickets being sold out months in advance. It marked the 10th anniversary of the last ever speedway action at Dudley Wood, the challenge match between Greg Hancock and Billy Hamill Selects. As well as music from 1995 and a big screen DVD of the best Heathens moments from the season, there was a special appearance from John Wilson, the rider who made his Cradley debut in that year. Apologies were sent from several other team members including Simon Cross, who is now based in France, Jonathan Forsgren in Sweden and Scott Smith who was attending Berwick's End of Season Presentation Night. Club CH would like to thank everyone who attended for making a very enjoyable night.
5th January 2006
NEW YEAR SITE SEARCH UPDATE
The search for a potential new site for the return of
Cradley Speedway has stepped up another gear with the next phase of the
consultants process. Bob Edwards has provided a detailed update on the
The first phase of the exercise was completed by
Steven Abbott Associates quite a while ago. They produced a report which
recommends what they call a "sequential approach". Under all existing
guidance and legislation the preferred place for a Sports Stadium is in
the middle of a town to take advantage of centres of population, other
leisure facilities in the area and transport links. The "sequential
approach" principle means that you should start off by looking in the most
appropriate location and then move on to looking at other options if the
need cannot be met there. That is the position at which Checkleys took
over and started the search to identify options that may be suitable.
They have done a first class job in contacting all of
the major local Landowners and Surveyors and following up the 40 or so
leads that we had already identified to whittle the options down to what
we feel are genuine possibilities. To date we have had three meetings and
a string of correspondence with officials at Dudley MBC, correspondence
and a meeting with Sandwell MBC and correspondence with both South Staffs
and Bromsgrove Councils. It is fair to say that the most fruitful
discussions to date have been with Dudley and Sandwell, which are, after
all, the two main areas of search.
The dealings with Dudley have been more positive than in the past and Andrew Sparke, the Chief Executive, has suggested that we search in some of the designated Employment zones, which is something we have not been allowed to do in the past.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to take forward
our first choice, Yorks Park (the Claughton site). The problem here is
that a multi million pound European grant was given to clear the site for
a specific purpose and to use it for anything else would mean that the
rate payers would have to pay it back.
We resurrected enquiries on another two very
prominent locations in the town centre but neither of the key players had
any desire to see a Stadium incorporated into their proposals. One
positive thing to come of these enquiries, though, was that one of the
Companies involved has offered to have talks with the Council to identify
if there are any other options available in the Borough.
As reported in a number of Press articles, one other
site still fits into the "town centre" category. It is the former British
Gas site just off Beatties Car Park. Checkleys are currently trying to
make contact with a Company, who we believe to be the owners, to establish
what their intentions are for the site. Even though it has not been used
for years it is not being advertised for sale, which is a bit of a
mystery. Throughout this exercise close contact has been maintained with
Dudley Town FC who have been strongly linked to it in the Press.
There are another five or so sites within Dudley Borough that Checkleys are following up to establish their suitability, who the owners are and whether they would be prepared to release the land and Tony Mole is taking the lead directly on another location.
The Planners at Sandwell have been very helpful and undertook extensive investigations into fourteen suggested sites which were then whittled down to two possibilities. Checkleys are currently establishing ownership of the sites so that they can identify if they are available and Sandwell are being helpful in checking their records to see if they have any information on some specific issues we have raised.
In order to increase the possibility of success,
letters have written to Bill Thomas, the Leader of the Council, to see if
he is prepared to match Dudley's offer and allow us to look in some of
their Employment Zones. A number of our original fourteen sites were ruled
out on this basis.
In summary, Bob concludes “I think we have made
some significant progress over the last few months in identifying some
sites that may be real options but there is still plenty more to do before
we can be optimistic of getting what we all want. I would like to wish a
Happy New Year to all the Heathens out there and if you get the chance
please follow the threads on the Fans Forum and support the Brummies
Planning Application. It would be great to see them back and any success
they have can only help our cause.”
A huge thanks to Bob for the full update as well as our enormous debt of gratitude to Bob, Tony Mole, Tim Senior at Checkleys, and all others involved in continuing their hard work behind the scenes.
16th February 2006
SITE SEARCH ALMOST COMPLETE
The consultants search process for a potential new speedway site is now almost complete. A list of around ten locations remain workable, although none are without their own problems which would still need be addressed. Half of the sites, which are spread over the boroughs of Dudley and Sandwell, appear to hold more likely possibilities than the rest and there is a combination of new and revisited sites being explored.
The final task, which is already underway, involves contacting landowners and addressing potential planning issues to finally decide whether any of the sites are suitable to stage speedway racing. Although one of the first choice locations now appears to have been crossed from the list, due to a change of heart by the owner of the land, it is still hoped that a planning application will eventually be submitted for what is deemed to be the most feasible location.
Bob Edwards, on behalf of CRASH, has been pleased with further positive developments to assist the search. An exchange of lengthy emails has led to constructive dialogue with Councillor Les Jones, Dudley's cabinet member for economic regeneration, and opposition Councillors John Davies and Shaukat Ali have also offered their support. Completing cross-party political backing, Lib Dem councillor Dave Tyler remains particularly encouraging and proactive.
In recent months, Council chiefs at Dudley had been fully co-operative in allowing consultants to explore designated employment sites in the area and now Sandwell's Council Leader, Bill Thomas, has also been extremely helpful in extending the same authorisation for similar sites in the neighbouring borough
20th February 2006
With another new season approaching, the once formidable Cradley duo
of Greg Hancock and
Billy Hamill have both joined new
clubs in the British Elite League. 1997 World Champion Hancock will
spearhead a new-look
side as they embark on an intriguing new era. Now nicknamed the
Bulldogs, the club have been bought by Grand Prix rights holders
and have entered the top flight with a view to moving to a new
purpose-built stadium in the near future. Meanwhile, 1996 World Champion
Hamill has caused a stir by signing for
Wolverhampton. Many riders have crossed the Black Country divide,
but rarely has a former number one heatleader plied his trade as both a
Heathen and a Wolf. We wish both Greg and Billy the best of luck for
Be sure to visit www.greghancock.com (one of the very best speedway sites we've seen to date) and www.billyhamill.com - Great to see both guys leading the way off-track as they always have done with some superb commercial vision.
24th April 2006
Dudley Wood Parish Church (St Johns - next to the Vic in St Annes Road) are
holding their Festival Week commencing Sunday 30th April 2006 and running
on until 2nd May 2006. There will be an exhibition marking the life and
activities of Dudley Wood.
On Monday 1st May Les Beaumont will be there to meet the fans and sign autographs and there will also be video's in the Church Hall during the evening, everyone is welcome. Start time is 7.30pm and the Exhibition will be open from 10.00am until 6.00pm on Sunday until Tuesday.
24th May 2006
Cradley's original World Champion, Bruce Penhall, is due to appear live on BBC Radio's Planet Speedway next Wednesday (31st May, 7pm). The American superstar will be linking up with the Oxford-based programme from his home in California and fans can listen in on the Internet by visiting the Planet Speedway mini-site. The interview has been arranged courtesy of cradleyspeedway.co.uk and Heathens fans are invited to take an interactive part in the show. A chatroom will be open for speedway fans throughout the 30 minute programme and if fans have a question for Bruce they can join in the debate with presenter Jerome Sale reading them out to Bruce as the interview progresses. Visit the Planet Speedway Mini-Site for more details at www.bbc.co.uk/oxford/sport/speedway
2nd July 2006
FINAL SHORTLIST OF SITES
The current site search, referred to as the 'make or break' stage in finding any potential new locations for the Heathens, has finally focused on a narrow shortlist of venues. Over the last few months, ten sites have been whittled down to less than half that number and it is thought that every avenue has now been explored within the target area.
All parties involved in the process of securing neccessary land and subsequent planning permission have been involved in research or negotiations over recent weeks. Tim Senior of consultants, Checkleys, is now completing a final report on the company's findings while Bob Edwards has produced a 13-page draft of the current position held by CRASH. The second planning consultants, Steven Abbott Associates, are working on a strategy to target the chosen sites.
One successful meeting has been held in the delicate process of striking a deal although CRASH are still waiting anxiously for a further date to be rearranged with Dudley Council Chief Executive, Andrew Sparke.
1st September 2006
SITE DECISION TIME APPROACHES
project carried about by consultants to find a potential new speedway site
is now reaching it’s
conclusion with a decision expected shortly on the final outcomes of the
A proposal is
being drawn up for discussion with Dudley Council, which is the result of
ongoing hard work by Bob Edwards, Tony Mole, Chris Haynes as well as both
professional consultants, Checkleys and Steven Abbott Associates.
Bob Edwards said ‘Both Tony Mole and I have been very impressed with the work done by Checkleys in identifying sites, having discussions with landowners and council planners.’
‘I would also
like to publicly thank David Lanfear of Sport England for the considerable
help he has given to the campaign both in terms of advice and financial
support through Sport England. David will be emigrating in a weeks time and
his departure will be a loss but he has made arrangements to hand over the
reigns to a colleague before he goes. If we do ultimately succeed some of
the credit will go to him.’
A draft report
on the findings is now expected from Steven Abbotts in Wigan which will be
combined with the site search carried out by Checkleys. Once the draft is
approved, Tony and Bob will make arrangements to open discussions on their
proposals with the Council.
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25th November 2006
Cradley rider Brian Brett sadly passed away last week following a heart
Brian rode for Cradley in 1967, it was his last season in the sport before his retirement in 1968. He spent most of his career with Swindon but also rode for Southampton and Newcastle. He visited Dudley Wood on a couple of occasions in the 90's and was always the life and soul of any party. [Rider Profile - Brian Brett]
PENHALL BACK FOR SAM'S FAREWELL
EIGHTIES speedway golden boy Bruce Penhall is returning to the Black Country for Sam Ermolenko's farewell meeting next month.
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HEATHENS ON TRACK FOR RETURN
Click here to check out the new thread in our own Fans Forum to discuss the developments.
EARLY SEASON FIXTURES APPEAL TO CRADLEY FANS
new season is dawning and despite being the 12th campaign since the
closure of Dudley Wood, there is plenty to interest Cradley fans in the
early fixtures. Three meetings in less than a week are sure to attract the
attention of Heathens followers.
- First is the Sam Ermolenko Farewell Meeting on Sunday 18th March at Wolverhampton; most notable for the appearance of Cradley legend Bruce Penhall. It is Bruce’s first visit to the UK since the publication of his 2005 biography, Penhall: World Speedway Champion, and the 1981 & 82 World Champ will be competing in a match race series against Ermolenko. Also in the main event are our other two American World Champions, Greg Hancock and Billy Hamill. Racing starts at 4pm with gates open from 12pm.
- Wednesday 21st March sees the re-opening meeting of our old neighbours Birmingham. The Brummies return to action at Perry Barr after an absence of more than 20 years and the close proximity of the new Premier League track has already attracted the attention of Heathens fans. The first meeting is of particular significance as it is an individual event for the Alan Hunt Memorial Trophy. Hunt is a former Birmingham and Cradley rider, and one of the very first Heathens legends.
- Lastly on Friday 23rd March is the Paul Fry 20-Year Testimonial Meeting at Somerset. Fry rode for Cradley Heath in 1986 and 87 after progressing through the ranks of the junior squad. He has since ridden for Exeter, Newport and Somerset but never staged a meeting to celebrate ten years in the sport. He has inidicated his desire to make sure that his time with Cradley is remembered and that the Heathens link will be marked at the event.
NEW TRACK TO BE THE 'SAME AS DUDLEY WOOD'
Preparations are now well underway to enter a planning application before Dudley Council to turn an unnamed site into the new home for Cradley Heath Speedway. One subject for consideration has been the dimensions of the proposed new track, and many Heathens fans will be delighted to hear the planned similarity to the former home of Dudley Wood. Detailed architects drawings will be requested to create a circuit similar in size and shape to the old track, with an ideal length of 340 metres - compared to 338 metres of Dudley Wood. Banking is also being factored in on the bends at a ratio of 1 in 10. Although the eventual size may be subject to change, depending on the overall layout of the new site, there will be a stipulation that the length should be no less than 300 metres. Tony Mole, the promoter behind the move to resurrect the club, says that he is keen for Cradley fans to experience the kind of racing that they were used to. The planning application is expected to be submitted within the next few months.
21st June 2007
OUR 60th ANNIVERSARY: 21st JUNE 2007
Its a landmark date this week. 21st June 2007 will be the 60th ANNIVERSARY of the first ever official Speedway Meeting in Cradley Heath.
On the 21st June 1947, Cradley Heath entertained Wombwell in a National League Division 3 match. The attendance at Dudley Wood was listed as 12,000.Cradley won the match 46-36, led by Les Beaumont, Geoff Bennett and Eric Irons who all scored 9 points each. An initial track record of 81.6 was established by Beaumont. The club operated during consecutive seasons from 1947 to 1952 but then closed for 8 years. Dudley Wood opened its doors to speedway once again in 1960 and the bikes roared every single year until 1995 when the stadium was closed and sold off by the owners for residential development.
The Heathens competed for one more season at Stoke in 1996 but have not raced competitively in the British Leagues since then, missing the last 11 seasons. A new planning application is now at an advanced stage, shortly to be submitted to Dudley Council. If successful, this would see the reintroduction of speedway to the area and continue the rich history of the famous Heathens.
TO SUPPORT THE RETURN OF SPEEDWAY TO DUDLEY
IT'S TIME TO SIGN! We are launching a new petition for people to register their support for the campaign to bring Cradley Speedway back home to the Dudley Borough. To download a paper copy of the petition, right-click on the Microsoft Word icon and choose 'Save Target As'. Print as many sheets as you require and make sure you ask any family, friends, neighbours or work colleagues if they would like to register their support.
Ten years ago, a similar petition aimed at preventing the residential development of Dudley Wood attracted over 30,000 signatures - believed to be the largest of it's kind ever received by Dudley Council. Now, the first planning application is imminently due to be submitted which - if successful - would see the Heathens return to the local area. In order to demonstrate the continued support for the club, we are embarking on a new petition which will combine a printed paper version for people to sign, complimented by an online 'e-petition'.
A number of fans have recently enquired about the possibility of collecting signatures at the British GP in Cardiff to support the campaign. Anyone wishing to do so, may now download a copy of the paper petition. Arrangements are also being made for official petitions to be distributed in due course at Wolverhampton and Birmingham, and we will give more details on this at a later date.
Margaret Bytheway of CRASH will be collating the paper petition and all completed sheets should be returned by post to the address shown on the forms. Over the coming weeks, we will mount a determined effort in the media to raise the profile of the campaign and we will issue more details regarding the online version of the petition. It is vitally important that we show the council the weight of feeling behind the campaign. After a ten year absence from competitive speedway, it's a tall order to beat the 30,000 names previously achieved - but let's make it our aim to give it a shot!
Meanwhile the Halesowen News website are running an online poll asking whether you would like to see Speedway return to the borough. [Click here to vote in the Halesowen New Poll]
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6th August 2007
ONLINE PETITION IS LAUNCHED
Following the fantastic response to the launch of the petition to Bring Back Cradley Speedway, we are pleased to announce a valuable addition to aid the collection of signatures. The online version is an extension to the petition which has already been signed by some fans, but the Internet based option is designed to allow more people to sign up who have not been able to access the paper copy. If you have not yet pledged your support to the campaign, then SIGN UP NOW! Whether you are from Cradley Heath or Canada, Dudley or Denmark, Netherton or New Zealand, we need you to show Dudley Council that you want to see the Heathens return to the Black Country.
You can sign the petition at: http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/bring-back-cradley-speedway.html - Please pass on the link to anyone who you think may be interested.
Speculation has continued to mount over plans for the eagerly-sought return of Cradley Speedway. The local free press, the Halesowen News, has printed stories suggesting two different sites recently, the second one appearing this week. We don't particularly enjoy the press playing games with the future of Cradley Speedway. We were upset with the previous story naming Dudley-Kingswinford Rugby club as a preferred site, and disappointed over the wasted time that this created for many people.
We do consider the proper place for a debate to be with Dudley Council and we are still trying extremely hard to arrange a date with them for further discussion over our chosen site. We have always felt that it was better not to comment on any specific site and don't intend to do so now. Whilst trying to meet the requirements of Dudley Council before submitting a planning application, we have been able to focus on gathering together the obvious support that exists for a return of speedway to the area. We have been delighted to see the number of people signing the petitions which have been set up and reading the positive comments that people have chosen to add.
Despite only speculating about specific sites, the Halesowen News has attempted to stir a debate about green belt locations. We would encourage supporters to continue to express their own views on this or any other matter. After submitting over 40 sites to Dudley and Sandwell councils, we are aware that there is National planning policy guidance which states that outdoor sport is indeed compatable with any green belt location, and that there are similar precedents. Current speedway tracks, both old and new, exist in a variety of locations including Newcastle and Glasgow which are overlooked by houses and Buxton which operates in the middle of the Peak District National Park. We are confident however that the two teams of professional consultants employed have identified the location most suitable for Cradley Speedway. To comment and give your continued support for any new speedway location, click here.
PETITION HAS THE MIDAS
Support has poured in from
people of the Black Country and around the world to support the return of
Cradley Speedway. In the first week since the launch of the
Online Petition, over 1200 names have been registered to back the
campaign. Hundreds are from the Dudley Borough with others from almost
every county in England and over a dozen other different countries in
every part of the globe. The Internet list is only a fraction of the total
signatures with many local people already signing the paper petition which
has been circulating in recent weeks. Both versions will be combined to
present to Dudley Council and show the strength of feeling behind the
forthcoming planning application for a new track in the area.
Amongst the names to add their weight are Heathens American World Champions Greg Hancock and Billy Hamill, plus other former riders including Denmark's Morten Andersen, Sweden's Jonathan Forsgren and Australia's John McNeill. Other riders joining the cause are current Grand Prix stars Leigh Adams, Hans Andersen and Scott Nicholls, plus Sky Sports presenters Sophie Blake, Kelvin Tatum and Sam Ermolenko.
A different addition is local band, Midas (pictured right), who hail from Stourbridge and are about to release their second single 'Red Shoes'. Despite being unsigned, their first hit recently made the Top 60 Singles Chart and all the band broke off from a current tour of Wales and the South Coast to sign the petition. Lead singer, Kris Lloyd said "We are delighted to support the campaign to get Cradley Speedway back on track and we will be encouraging our fans to sign the online petition. Kids today are often criticised for hanging around but the truth is there is so little for them to do. This iniative is great and we hope the Council will take the opportunity to back it and put the area back on the sporting map".
For more info on Midas and the new single, click here. To sign the Online Petition, click here.Or to view the signatures so far, click here.
You can sign the petition at: http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/bring-back-cradley-speedway.html - Please pass on the link to anyone who you think may be interested.
4th September 2007
PETITION GOING STRONG
The petition urging Dudley Council to Bring Back Cradley Speedway is going strong with thousands of signatures now recorded. Paper and online versions remain active and anyone wishing to sign or collect further signatures is still encouraged to do so. The online petition can be found at http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/bring-back-cradley-speedway.html and is now amongst the Top 20 petitions on the host website with more than 2100 names. The paper version can be downloaded here and this has also attracted thousands of names with more sheets waiting to be received. The address to which forms should be returned is at the bottom of the sheet and volunteers are reminded to return any completed forms as soon as possible.
We have analysed the location data from the first 2000 signatures of the online petition, revealing some useful information. Just under half of the submissions are from the local area including Cradley Heath (Sandwell) and Birmingham. 29% of the overall total are from the region within Dudley Borough Council. From the remaining signatures outside the area, most come from the United Kingdom but around 5% of the submissions come from the rest of the world. Sixteen different countries are represented with support coming from Australia & New Zealand, USA & Canada and a dozen countries throughout Europe. From the UK signatures, 67 different counties are represented including 43 from England and 15 in Scotland. The data goes a long way to show that there is a huge strength of feeling both within the Black Country as well as right across the world for one of the planet's most famous and successful speedway clubs.
We're urging everyone to keep the signatures coming - make sure you remind friends and family to sign up if they haven't already. Meanwhile, the eagerly anticipated planning application could now be submitted within the next fortnight. Media speculation has increased as to the locality of the potential new site and this will undoubtedly rise further still when more details are announced.
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30th October 2007
PLANNING APPLICATION LAUNCHED - New Home For Heathens?
Almost 12 years to the day since the final speedway meeting was staged at Dudley Wood, a planning application has been launched to bring the Heathens back to the borough.
The application is in respect of a site off Oldnall Road, only a mile from the former Dudley Wood Stadium, and comes as a result of a huge undertaking of work since 1995. During that time, Dudley Council set a number of conditions to be met by supporters’ group C.R.A.S.H. (Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens). The list included compiling a business plan proving the viability of the sport, obtaining the support and approval of Sport England, securing suitable investment from a developer, finding an experienced promoter to manage the operation and both funding and carrying out a professionally led site search. All of the conditions have now been satisfied and, after a site search lasting over 18 months and costing £14,000, we believe we have a site than can work.
During the search, many alternative sites were suggested to the planners, only to be told that Speedway would not be allowed on them. Some of these decisions have been both surprising and disappointing, but we can now look forward rather than back. The application will be submitted by vastly experienced speedway promoter, and current owner of the recently revived Birmingham Brummies, Tony Mole. A huge petition is supporting the proposal and signatures continue to be added on a daily basis. Fans are welcome to pledge further support by signing the petition online, collecting signatures on paper or lobbying their local councillor.
The site itself is adjacent to a separate site which was ruled out in the early stages of the search. It is designated 'Green Belt' and there is no proposal to change that. The Green Belt already provides homes for Stourbridge and Dudley Kingswinford Rugby Clubs, Halesowen Cycling, Tennis and Athletics Clubs and Stourbridge Tennis Club, amongst others. The proposal is to stage Speedway racing, mainly on Saturday nights, from 7p.m. to 9.30 p.m. on approximately 30 nights per year.
There are many clauses in Dudley’s Unitary Development Plan, which support the proposal. The Council has said that it will “encourage and facilitate” the development of a stadium in the Borough and the opportunity is now being presented for them to deliver on that pledge. There are major benefits to the Borough in terms of drawing the community together behind a common sporting interest, creating jobs and bringing visitors and their money to the area. We have done all we can to get the Borough’s most successful and best supported sports team back on its feet. Now it is down to the Council to give us the permission we need to complete the job. We hope they will seize the opportunity.
10th November 2007
Background to the Proposed New Site: Why Oldnall Road?
Cradley Heath Speedway has been well and truly back in the spotlight of the local press and media since the news broke of the planning application for a new site at Oldnall Road in Cradley. We have received emails of support through the website, fans have added their thoughts to our Fans Forum and the number of signatures on our online petition has enjoyed a sudden growth spurt! There have also been comments made by objectors to the proposal, mainly residents living in the area of the proposed site, some of which are valuable points of debate and some of which are ill-informed or out-dated misconceptions about the sport.
Reports have been printed in the Express and Star, Dudley/Halesowen Chronicle and Stourbridge/Halesowen News. Some of the links to these stories are at the bottom of this story. There have also been some controversial comments made by local ward councillors which have angered speedway fans. Bob Edwards, representing CRASH, in the campaign to see a return of the Heathens has addressed some of the recent issues in the media:
"Following comments by Councillors and residents it may help to explain why the Oldnall Rd site has been chosen as the new location for speedway and what has already been done to address their concerns. Over the past 12 years, more than 60 sites have been considered. Most have been in the Dudley Borough, as that was where the former track was located. Whilst it has not been possible to take some forward due to a lack of cooperation from land owners, the majority have been rejected by the Council as, in their view, unsuitable.
"The search started in the centre of Dudley and seemingly suitable sites such as Castlegate, Yorks Park and the Zoo redevelopment were all rejected by the Council. At the end of the site search there was still an alternative, where the owner agreed to have discussions with the Council over its utilisation. Having first agreed to meet, the Council eventually refused to take up the offer. This left us with our 12-year long site search finally narrowed down to one last site – Oldnall Rd.
"Last January, CRASH and potential developer and promoter Tony Mole had a meeting with Council officials covering noise, transport, leisure, nature, planning and archaeology and we asked them to set out all potential issues relating to the site. A number of consultants were then appointed to address the issues raised and their work has taken many months, with the resulting advice being that the proposal satisfies the conditions required for it to be acceptable."
Dudley Council have had 12 years to suggest an alternative. They have not done so. Cllr Tim Crumpton is a local ward councillor for the site in question and claims that he has sympathy for speedway fans but acknowledges that the council have offered very little help during the last decade. He has failed to mention that for part of that time, he has himself served as Shadow Member for Leisure. He has certainly never approached us to discuss the site search and neither did his predecessor, while in power.
Cllr Richard Body also serves the Cradley and Foxcote area and has made emotive claims in the media with some extremely questionable quotes. He has claimed that the noise test carried out in research for the application was invalid, that we are developing speedway "on the cheap" and that he is not aware of us looking for alternatives. All of these points were answered at a meeting he attended, at our request, so that we could brief him and his colleagues. During that meeting Councillor Body actually suggested that we could remove part of the woodland to create more parking and bring other sports onto the site. The former we have no intention of doing, as the woodland is protected, and the latter would only be considered if the Council asked us to do so. What he says in the press is a matter for him but speedway supporters should be assured that grabbing headlines with issues such as this, does nothing to influence any serious consideration of the proposal.
The Council will decide the proposal on its merits and the facts,
taking legitimate concerns into account and discounting wild and unsubstantiated
claims. We believe we have already taken steps to address the points the Council
raised to meet those concerns and comply with relevant planning policy and
guidance. There has been a slight delay in the registration of the application
however as the numerous reports are all being checked and accounted for. We
would like to state very clearly that our objective is not to upset residents
but simply to revive Dudley’s most successful sports club and put some sporting
pride back into the Borough. Heaven knows we have waited long enough!
Links of Interest:
Media & Newspapers: Express and Star | Halesowen News | Stourbridge News
What You Can Do:
Find your Local Dudley Ward Councillor and Send an Email - use this link if you are resident of Dudley to find your local counillor; you can email them to voice your opinion and seek their support. We will be giving everyone the crucial details of where to write letters of support once the application is registered.
Sign the Online Petition - use this link if you have not already signed the petition or know someone else who would like to add their support; open to residents of Dudley, Sandwell or anywhere else in the world!