Our latest press release announcing Brian Patton as a candidate for the coming elections.
A former councillor is to stand on a ‘Get Cov Back To The Ricoh’ platform against Coventry City Council leader Ann Lucas in next month’s elections.
Experienced city politician Brian Patton will stand in the Holbrook ward in the May 22 council elections against the leader who has presided over a year of the bitter dispute which resulted in Coventry City Football Club playing home matches 35 miles away in Northampton.
Brian – a long-standing critic of the council’s involvement in the Ricoh Arena and how it has affected the club – aims to pressurise the council to do more to get the Sky Blues back to the council-owned stadium for next season.
The Get Cov Back To The Ricoh campaign – set up last year to represent fans and Coventry people who believe the club’s Ricoh return should be the priority whoever owns the club or stadium – launched its “Vote Them Out” campaign earlier this month. The launch included:
1. A demonstration for fans and the public on May 10 outside the Council House, at 1pm.
2. A call for all voters to contact candidates including sitting councillors in their wards to ask what they would do to get the Sky Blues back to the Ricoh – and vote against them if they are not satisfied.
3. To urge people to stand on a platform of Get Cov Back To The Ricoh.
The Get Cov Back To The Ricoh campaign is delighted today to announce that Brian Patton, a former Labour councillor, has thrown his hat into the ring in time for today’s close of nominations.
Brian has been a highly vocal public critic of the council’s involvement in the Ricoh Arena since a deal was approved in 2003 to build the stadium. He has also criticised the £14.4million secret council deal to bail-out the part-council owned Ricoh management company, Arena Coventry Limited, in January last year. That deal will next month be subject to a Judicial Review into whether it was a mis-use of taxpayers’ money.
Brian said: “I was approached by the ‘Get Cov Back to The Ricoh’ campaign team to stand in these elections and jumped at the chance, because I believe the way the council has handled this issue has been appalling. People will remember that I raised concerns about the Ricoh Arena when it was first discussed – and the concerns I raised then have been proven to be the case.
“However, time has moved on and the issue now is, ‘How can we get CCFC playing its football back in Coventry’?. Unfortunately, the council don’t even appear to be willing to talk to CCFC and that needs to change.
“Coventry City Football Club were basically set up to fail when the plans for the Ricoh Arena were first drawn up. It was obvious to anyone that would listen that they would not be able to attract 22,000 fans to every home game, and that is what they had to do to be able to afford to pay the £1.2m per annum rent.
“In addition, what revenue the football club would be able to make from playing its games at the Ricoh was never really taken into account. These issues now need to be looked at in greater detail, regardless of what comes out of the Judicial Review that is now pending.
“Unfortunately, it now appears that there are too many councillors that have been working to ensure that CCFC don’t return to the Ricoh because they don’t get on with the owners. That needs to stop and people need to ‘grow up’.
“Football should be the life’s blood of a city like Coventry and until we get CCFC playing its football here again we will remain the laughing stock of the football world.”
Brian has been married for over 30 years, and has two daughters and two grandsons, Noah and Max.
He works for the National Probation Service as a Probation Service Officer and has worked there for about 18 years.
He became a Labour councillor in a by-election in 1997 and remained a councillor until he was barred from standing by the party in the 2008 local elections. He said: ‘This was because I refused to accept a written warning for abstaining on a vote in Full Council – ironically about the Ricoh Arena.”
Brian added: “I always used to follow the City and went to most home games at Highfield Road. I have also been to watch Coventry at the Ricoh.”
Brian went on to stand in Coventry in elections for the Liberal Democrats, and he stood for election to Parliament as an MP in the 2010 general election in Coventry South.
“Vote Them Out’ organisers the Get Cov Back To The Ricoh campaign say the council elections are a unique opportunity for fans, voters and taxpayers to have their say. It is urging a united front among the majority of fans who believe all sides should be held to account for the disastrous dispute which led to the Sky Blues playing in Northampton.
It calls on anyone who cares about the Sky Blues’ threatened future to not only join the demonstration outside Coventry City Council in Earl Street, city centre, on Saturday, May 10, at 1pm – but to call councillors to account at the ballot box for their part in the crisis.
Both the council leader Ann Lucas (Holbrook) and deputy leader Phil Townshend (Lower Stoke) are standing this year, as are Conservatives who as an opposition group have supported the Labour council’s strategy.
Long-standing Coventry City fans Rob Stevens and Stuart Cosgrove, joint organisers of the Get Cov Back To The Ricoh campaign, believe that while fans debate to what extent each party was responsible, most people blame all sides, and want all sides to be held to account. Most fans think the council and ACL are partly responsible – while the vast majority, above all else, want the club to return to the Ricoh whoever owns either.
Rob Stevens said: “We are delighted to announce that Brian Patton is standing for election, following our call for independent candidates to stand on a Get Cov Back To The Ricoh platform.
“He has been one of the most vocal critics of the council’s involvement in the stadium, which was only built because of the football club.
“We warned last October that the council ruling out an unencumbered sale of the Ricoh, and insisting that the club could only return as tenants, would leave our beloved Sky Blues playing ‘home’ games 35 miles away for years and years – threatening the club’s future.
“While the club’s owners Sisu must take a good part of the responsibility for that, most people accept the football club needs to own its own stadium to obtain vital commercial revenues. The Sky Blues’ future remains in doubt with £7million further losses last year recently announced. Liquidation remains a threat, whether or not the plan is to build a new stadium in Warwickshire would could take years. The club’s owners have repeatedly said they will not return as tenants, and will not sell the club before acquiring a stadium. For those fans who want rid of Sisu, combining the club and stadium would give Sisu an exit strategy.”
“The council is heavily Labour dominated and the Conservative opposition have supported councilllors’ and council officers’ strategy over the football club. Councillors have also mainly been sworn to secrecy, refusing to speak to fans, voters and taxpayers while hiding behind legal advice.
“This month’s elections are a chance for all voters to have their say on the dispute and demand more action to bring our club back to the council-owned stadium for next season, which was only built because of the football club.
“We are calling on fans to join the demonstration, and contact election candidates in their wards in a search for answers. If they are not satisfied with their councillors’ answers or actions whichever party they belong to, now is the chance to vote them out.
“There has been a lack of transparency and democratic accountability at Coventry City Council. We do not know how much council taxpayers’ money has been spent of legal and PR fees in the dispute; and our call in December at a council meeting with leader Ann Lucas for an economic impact survey into losing the club was ignored.
“We also want to call the Higgs charity to account and pressurise it to do the right thing in the interests of the club and city.”
Stuart Cosgrove said: “In October, we held a small demonstration at the Council House on a weekday lunchtime. It was never intended as a mass demonstration, but to present one of the largest petitions the council has ever received. The council leader Ann Lucas broke her silence at the council meeting that day and it lead to talks between her and Sisu’s Joy Seppala.
“This will be the first full demonstration during a weekend for us, when more people are available. We welcome all fans and people who care about the club’s future and want to see a Ricoh return next season, regardless or who owns the stadium or the club.
“If you only blame the club’s owners, this demonstration is not for you. We are not apologists for Sisu. They have made mistakes and we have publicly criticised them. We have supported other fans’ activities. But if you believe all sides should shoulder responsibility, now is the time to hold the council to account, whatever comes from the forthcoming Judicial Review, which may or may not move the situation forward.”