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Romford in fresh grounds for hope

17:00 13 June 2014

Romford Chairman Steve Gardener. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Romford Chairman Steve Gardener. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

It may have been a long time coming, but Romford are a step closer to moving back into the borough.

Having secured planning permission for a stadium at Westlands Playing Fields just under five years ago things had gone very quiet in recent times.

But Havering Council have proposed to lease a small part of the playing field to Boro and the plans are going through a period of local consultation, much to the delight of chairman Steve Gardener.

“After we got planning permission things did go static after that and it has taken a long time in coming because of the procedures you have to go through,” said Gardener. “But now we can hopefully start getting things in place for a return to the town, which is what we’ve wanted for so long now.

“It’s nice to be able to say something to the supporters because they’ve been asking for updates most weeks.

“Everything has to be verified with the council – that’s how things work.”

Since reforming in 1992 Boro have been able to call Hornchurch, Collier Row, Rush Green, Aveley and Thurrock their home.

They have established themselves in Ryman One North under manager Paul Martin, but Gardener knows being back in the borough is the only way the club can grow again.

He added: “We get on well with Thurrock, but there’s no hiding from the fact we are still a long way outside the centre of the town. Being 10-12 miles away from the town makes it hard to create new supporters and attract sponsors.

“Hopefully this can mean the first team and all our youth teams can have their own base.”

Some funding has already been put in place for the move, but with a long-term lease at Westlands, more will hopefully come.

The period of consultation for the proposal runs until July 25, but Gardener says it may be a long time before they get another update.

“The initial consultation lasts for another six weeks, but due process could make it up to 18 weeks.

“It’s a long time to wait, but something we’re used to. Come Christmas hopefully there will be more news.”

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