More questions than answers as community gives mixed response to mooted Hitchin Town move

The community turns out in force for last night's Top Field meeting. Picture: Peter Else

The community turns out in force for last night's Top Field meeting. Picture: Peter Else - Credit: Archant

There was a mixed response at the crucial Top Field meeting last night to discuss the options available to Hitchin Town FC to secure their long-term future.

It was standing room only at the Canary Club, in Fishponds Road, as club officials canvassed views on how best to secure the Canaries long-term future – which included the controversial option to move the club to a new site at The Priory School.

The potential change of direction comes after a Save Top Field campaign which saw the club fight off a potential supermarket development which could have seen them move to an out-of-town site between Hitchin and Stevenage.

Hitchin Town officials believe a deal with The Priory School could provide them with a modern stadium, while helping the Bedford Road school expand in a project which could benefit the community as a whole.

However, fans and people from the town expressed a number of concerns at last night’s meeting, including councillor Judi Billing who told chief executive Andy Melvin to a round of applause: “I’m feeling a little confused – why last year was it a bad thing for Hitchin Town to move from Top Field, but now this year it’s a good thing to move?

“We may have different reasons why we all marched in support of the club – but many people are still emotionally connected with the Save Top Field campaign.”

A member of the audience also received a round of applause from the three-figure crowd after saying: “People from the wider Hitchin community use Top Field too.

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“There’s such history here and many community clubs would be left homeless.”

Another voice from the floor added: “The new ground would be soulless. Everybody’s heart is at Top Field.”

North Herts Labour leader Frank Radcliffe asked Mr Melvin: “The trustees of the club, The Cow Commoners, seem to be an integral part of the issue, why were they not invited?”

Mr Melvin insisted they had been invited stating: “We’re not here to make decisions but The Priory School option ticks many boxes.”

A spokesman for the Cow Commoners told the Comet: “It is too early to give comment at this stage, but we do have a duty to consider proposals that might further the objects of the Cow Commoners Trust and wait to see how the concept progresses.”

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