CHINGFORD: Welfare groups downplay Stow racing bid involvement (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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CHINGFORD: Welfare groups downplay Stow racing bid involvement
TWO animal welfare organisations have said they do not support a the return of dog racing to Walthamstow Stadium, despite previous claims that they were working on a proposal to reopen the venue.
The site's owner, London and Quadrant (L&Q), has submitted a planning application to build a 300-home housing estate on the Chingford Road site.
But millionaire businessman Bob Morton wants to buy the stadium and re-introduce dog racing alongside housing.
Mr Morton, supporters of the Save Our Stow (SOS) campaign and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy have all said he has been working with the League Against Cruel Sports and the Dogs Trust to ensure that greyhounds will be treated well if his plans become a reality.
But the organisations have moved to downplay their involvement after animal rights campaigners complained to the Dogs Trust.
Chief executive Clarissa Baldwin said: "[the] Dogs Trust is not involved in the campaign to bring Greyhound racing back to Walthamstow.
"Were planning permission to be granted, our priority would be to ensure the cradle to grave health and welfare of the dogs who train or race at the track.
"At Mr Morton’s request, myself and a representative from the League Against Cruel Sports met with him to discuss whether they would be prepared to advise the new owner about welfare provisions.
"This was something that was agreed in principal in order to make certain that welfare is central to any plans that may or may not be taken forward."
Steve Taylor, the League Against Cruel Sport's head of campaigns, also moved to distance the organisation from Mr Morton’s plans.
He said: "It's true to say that we're engaged on the issue, but no-one should claim that we're supportive. "The League isn't an abolitionist organisation.
Greyhound racing is an industry in welcome long-term decline and it would be disappointing if Walthamstow was to reopen.
"But we are pragmatists and our concern would be for the welfare of the greyhounds and we would be keen to meet with anyone setting up a new track in order to express our concerns and seek assurances."
Two months ago it was announced that Mr Morton was preparing to submit a rival planning application of his proposals to the council, although this is yet to happen.
L&Q insist his plan is not viable.
The consultation into L&Q's plans ends on Monday August 22. Visit the planning section of wwww.walthamforest.gov.uk and search for 2011/0898 to view them.
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