A PETITION to ban greyhound racing at the Abbey Stadium will not be put to councillors, despite garnering 1,700 signatures.

Stephanie Poyntz runs Stop Swindon Greyhound racing and has been campaigning against the sport in the town.

After she failed to get members of the council’s planning committee to allow the stadium in Blunsdon to be rebuilt for speedway but not dog racing, she decided to start the petition.

Stephanie said: “I was advised by the chairman of the planning committee to try the e-petition scheme.

“I went to the legal services department to check the wording and was told they wouldn't advise me because they considered it to be an action against the council.”

The petition Stephanie posted on the council’s website called upon the authority to use “relevant powers to influence plans for Abbey Stadium to ensure it is used in a more economically and sustainable way” – to ban the greyhound racing.

By the time it expired it had more than 1,700 signatures, well over the highest council threshold for 1,500 to trigger a debate.

Stephanie says she was told it would be debated by councillors at last night's full council meeting – the first since lockdown.

But she was then told that it wouldn’t be put to councillors at all.

An email to Stephanie from the council’s legal team said: “To be valid, a petition must contain a clear statement of what you want the council to do and, most importantly, this must be something over which the council has some influence.

“The plans for this development have been considered and approved by the planning committee and permission granted.

“The proposals for redevelopment of the Abbey Stadium have already been challenged, including by the petition organiser, as part of the statutory planning process. Objections to the development, and also concerns over impact and sustainability, were considered by the committee."

It added the council could not lawfully re-examine the planning application or overturn the decision, nor does it have powers to ban dog racing, which is a legal activity, or to ask parliament to make it illegal.

Stephanie said: “We got more than 1,500 signatures – only two petitions have done that in years.

“I don't know what the purpose of the e-petition scheme is if the council refuses to hold debates once people have achieved the required number of signatures.

“I find it hard to believe that the council can't or doesn't want to work with (stadium owners) Gaming International to review the use of the stadium.

"If the council is serious about maintaining the speedway, it needs to ensure that the stadium is financially viable. I have asked what due diligence the council has done on the company but have not yet had a reply.”

A spokesman for the council said it had nothing to add to the email Stephanie received.