Green Party Upset over Plans to modernise Worcester Racecourse

A bid to ‘modernise’ Worcester racecourse has been criticised by local councillors. They are upset at the move believing that the council should not be making profits out of horse racing but more importantly gambling.

There has been a £20 million bid by the Worcester Council to receive ‘levelling up’ money. This would then be used to build a new grandstand at the racecourse and also enlarge their conference facilities. They would also be able to use the riverside cafe and function room for parties and also weddings bringing in more revenue.

The possible funds received would also see a new running track and turning the former Engine Works building in Shrub Hill into offices and creative spaces.

Speaking about the planned work at the racecourse, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said a “greener” grandstand would be created. Rather ironic then that it is the local Green Party who are not happy with the plans.

July 4 saw the City Council’s policy and resources committee give their approval to the deal. However, it’s a move that two Green Party councillors believe should not be happening. Louis Stephen and Karen Lewing feel that this is an “unethical” move.

Mr Stephens is the Green Party leader in Worcester’s City Council. His belief is that there will be “some people” who will be asking why they are investing in something that is “supporting gambling.” He also raised the subject of animal rights when voicing his opposition to the bid.

It was Karen Lewing who spoke about the ethics of the bid. The councillor said that the “real issue” she has with the racecourse project” isn’t the improved conference facilities. In fact, those are described by her as being “fantastic.”

However, what is upsetting her is that she struggles with the council investing in something “that some people I think is an unethical investment.” The councillor added that her hope is it will be the conference facility and Sports Arena that sees the council making profits. If that isn’t the case and it instead comes from gambling and people drinking alcohol at the racecourse, then she is unable to support the bid.

The leader of Worcester City Council is Cllr Marc Bayliss. He does not believe that horse racing is unethical. He said regarding the council making money from the selling of alcohol at venues/events, that is already happening.

The same applies to receiving revenues from the issuing of gambling licences. The council leader added that “I;m satisfied that the proposal, or the one that is at our own conference facility, will benefit the people of Worcester and bring in more money and develop our economy in many important ways.”