Important step forward for football club

EARLY on Monday morning, I followed up on my previous conversations with the trustees of the Raymond McEnhill estate, encouraging them to consider the benefits of giving at least a short-term lease at the Ray Mac to the new Salisbury FC.

While the club’s long-term home may well lie elsewhere, getting back on the pitch is, it seems to me, the first and most important step – unlocking the opportunity for Salisbury to join the FA pyramid, start generating income and build a reputation on its own merits.

I am delighted that the recent stalemate has been broken and constructive dialogue between the club’s directors and the trustees is now taking place on that basis.

I very much hope that the legacy of Raymond McEnhill will continue in the form of realistic financial assistance towards the realisation of a future that the new club chooses for itself.

As I have often said, the new board’s determination to build a sustainable club is highly creditable and through matched funding from the likes of Sport England and the FA and the considerable goodwill of the local authority, I am hopeful they can break the cycle of boom and bust in football once and for all. Perhaps the time has even come for local fans to have a stake in their club?

At Sunday’s Rule of Law service at Salisbury Cathedral, I had the opportunity to resume my conversation on the subject with the Leader of Wiltshire Council Jane Scott, who will continue to do all she can to ensure clarity in the planning process so that all parties can proceed with confidence and in the best interests of local sport.

If re-elected, I look forward to playing my part in helping to secure Salisbury’s footballing future.

My week in Westminster was dominated by the last DCLG questions of this parliament and by the Budget.

Back in Salisbury tomorrow, I am hosting an all party discussion in my office which I hope will build consensus around Ian McLennan and Tom Corbin’s integrated transport plan.

I look forward to working with anyone who has an interest in a safer, greener Salisbury and ideas that have the potential to achieve that objective deserve proper consideration, irrespective of politics.