Shnag launches fundraising bid to pay legal bill

A GROUP opposing Lord Derby’s plans to build 1,200 homes in Newmarket is embarking on a fundraising campaign to meet the huge legal costs it has incurred.

Save Historic Newmarket recently locked horns with those trying to push through plans for the controversial Hatchfield Farm development at a public inquiry that will decide once and for all if the scheme will go ahead.

And while they await the Secretary of State’s decision, expected early next year, the task of repaying those who have supported their legal challenge has begun.

Jacko Fanshawe, of Save Historic Newmarket, said her group’s legal fees were around £300,000 and that a series of fundraisers would be held to help repay outstanding costs.

The first has been dubbed the the “three knights” dinner which will be hosted by three of racing’s most respected names – Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Sir Michael Stoute and Sir Henry Cecil – and held at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket on November 26.

Speaking from Pegasus Stables, the home she shares with revered town trainer James in Snailwell Road, Mrs Fanshawe said: “We want to raise as much money as possible.

“We have had to go begging on a number of occasions and we have been supported by some very generous people who are keen to see Newmarket remain as the home of horseracing.

“A lot of what we have spent came from generous donations but some were loans and we still owe quite a lot. We want to pay back the generosity of some of our benefactors.”

Mrs Fanshawe said Lord Derby’s scheme, which also includes shops, restaurants, community facilities and a primary school, would jeopardise the town’s future as a major training centre.

She said: “The whole of the racing and breeding industry are absolutely horrified by the proposal of this development. It would have a huge impact on the industry, putting a lot of livelihoods at risk, as well as Newmarket’s status as the home of horseracing.

“Traffic is already a problem regardless of a development of this size. If people can’t get to the gallops to see their horses they will look elsewhere.”

James Fanshawe added: “Newmarket has probably had the best season as a training centre it could have possible wished for. It’s the best training centre in the world and we want to keep it that way – nothing should be brought in to damage that reputation.”

Lord Derby insists he has horseracing’s best interests at heart and would pull out of the development if the industry was threatened in any way.

“I believe this is both a suitable and sustainable proposal,” he said.