Sep 162014

Regular visitors to Walton Hall Park have told the ECHO they have mixed feelings about the prospect of Everton FC’s new football stadium being built in the park.

The club says it wants to move the short distance from Goodison Park to Walton Hall, in a bid to increase their capacity and build a more modern stadium.

After the ambitious plan was revealed yesterday, the ECHO spoke to park users to gauge their views on the issue.

Karen Duffy, from Walton, said she visited the park twice a day to walk her Jack Russell dog and was concerned about the ffect on the community.

She said: “I think this is more than just a proposal – it’s already done and dusted.

“It’s bad enough parking now. If it goes ahead, what about our rights as residents?

“The park is a social place for people to meet, and it’s the dogs’ only form of proper exercise. It’s like a little community for dog-walkers and joggers.”

Gareth Jones Rikki Cavanagh spoke to the ECHO about her views on Everton's proposal to move to Walton Hall Park

Rikki Cavanagh spoke to the ECHO about her views on Everton’s proposal to move to Walton Hall Park  

But Rikki Cavanagh, who was with his two-year-old son Bailey, took the opposite view.

He said: “I’m an Evertonian and I think Walton Hall Park would be ideal.

“It’s much better than the earlier plan to move to Kirkby which I wasn’t happy about at all because it’s miles away.

“The park doesn’t get used for anything important and the stadium wouldn’t take up all of it.

“There are plenty of other places where people can walk their dogs, and they are supposed to be kept on a lead anyway.”

A has revealed Everton FC will have to overcome significant hurdles if they are to realise their dream of a new stadium in Walton Hall Park.

With fans openly discussing the move away from Goodison to Walton Hall Park as long as three years ago, an FOI by the ECHO showed the council was looking at the feasibility of the move.

The document pointed out some of the potential hurdles that would have to be overcome, especially due to the need for other development around the stadium to help finance it.

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Colin Longworth, from Norris Green, who was walking his German Shepherd, said: “I’ve been coming to the park every day for 28 years so I’ve got a real attachment to it.

“I’ve not really made up my mind about whether a football stadium would be a good or bad thing.

“It may enhance the park, but then again it may be detrimental.”

But there were no such doubt in the mind of Mark Kirwan from Netherton.

He said: “There are brownfield sites down by the M57 and the East Lancs Road that could be used for a new stadium.

“It’s an industrial area and it’s a better road system.

“If it was built here, it would be chaos on the roads on match days. Even now we can’t park outside our house sometimes.

“But if nobody opposes the stadium scheme, it will go ahead.”

Linda Sykes, from Walton, said: “I’ve been coming to the park all my life. I feel passionate about it and we shouldn’t have a football stadium built on one of the few green areas of Liverpool.

“It means dogs won’t be able to have a run-around and we will have to keep them on leads the whole time. The kids have got to have somewhere to come and play.

“Even when I come here at 6.30 in the morning to walk the dog, there’s always someone jogging round the park and someone here that you know. It’s like a meeting place.”

Eric Gillard, from Walton, said he was a keen Evertonian.

He said: “I would rather the club stayed at Goodison Park because it’s always been there.

“But you’ve got to move with the times and the club has a long-term plan of wanting to compete in Europe, and they need to generate more money.

“I’m not against moving to Walton Hall Park in principle so long as there’s plenty of space left for residents.”

There was a similar division of opinion in the park’s play area.

Gareth Jones Rachel Lund spoke to the ECHO about her views on Everton's proposal to move to Walton Hall Park

Rachel Lund spoke to the ECHO about her views on Everton’s proposal to move to Walton Hall Park

Rachel Lund, from Walton, who was with her one-year-old daughter Poppy, said: “I’m not a football fan myself but I think it’s a stupid idea.

“There would have to be car parking and fast-food stalls set up. You couldn’t have the kids here playing or have the dogs walking around with all those people here.

“At Goodison Park, people can easily go into town. Where would they go from here?”

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