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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
Speedway 'could make a comeback'
Emma Carson
BBC News, Derbyshire

Speedway racing at Long Eaton
Residents are worried about dust, pollution and noise
Speedway enthusiasts want their sport to return to a Derbyshire town - despite residents' concerns.

A 13-acre speedway site in Long Eaton has been derelict since the last race there in 1997, but could be back open again for business in 2006.

Those opposing the development say the return of speedway will mean problems with noise, dust and parking.

But supporters say changes will reduce the noise and the track will bring much needed entertainment to the town.

The stadium was taken over by receivers in 1978 and events continued there from 1979 until it was sold in 1997.

Long Eaton's team of riders, the Invaders, enjoyed particular success in 1984.

We are frightened that if it goes ahead our lives along with many others will totally change against our will
Kelly Dallard, local resident

"Save Our Stadium", a drive to reopen the venue, started in March 1998.

Campaigner Martin North said: "The stadium made the town well-known, people associated it with the track.

"Speedway is a sport which is friendly, competitive, affordable and attracts good attendance."

The track's former commercial manager John Bailey said: "(The reopened stadium) will bring approximately 100 new jobs and will encourage visitors to spend money in the town.

"It's bringing much needed entertainment for everybody."

Long Eaton Speedway
Fans say the speedway has put Long Eaton on the map

In 1994 and again in 2001 public inquiries took place for applications to develop the site for residential purposes, but both appeals were dismissed.

The site was bought in the spring of 2005 by Knightsbridge-based Stolkin Properties, who had been negotiating to purchase it since 1999.

Supporters said plans to reopen the site include turning the existing track around by 90 degrees to get the benefit of the land.

They will also open a restaurant and bar which would be open to local residents.

Speedway is a sport which is friendly, competitive, affordable and attracts good attendance
Martin North, Save Our Stadium

But the plans have prompted strong opposition from some residents who feel the land would be better used for housing, school playing fields and a doctors' surgery.

Resident Mick Wells said: "The stadium site is slap-bang in the middle of a residential area. There are several nursing homes. There are several blocks of OAP flats."

He said on meeting days there was incessant noise from the stadium which went on from about 3pm until 10.30pm.

He said there had been problems with parking and even cases of residents being abused by visiting fans.

Kelly Dallard, who lives near the site with her husband and four-year-old son, remembers how dust from the track aggravated her asthma as a child.

She said: "We are frightened that if it goes ahead our lives along with many others will totally change against our will."

But supporters say a number of measures are being taken to ensure the new stadium does not disrupt the lives of people living nearby.

They say that the design of the new stadium and the elimination of other types of motor sport will all help to counter concerns expressed by some local residents.

John Bailey said the proposed new track will be fully enclosed on all four sides by stands with sound absorbers built into the walls, plus an independent directional public address system.

The matter has yet to be submitted to Erewash Borough Council for approval.

Development manager Ian McHugh said the authority officially supported the move to have a stadium back on the site but also recognised the concerns of some local residents.

He said: "It's seen as an asset for Long Eaton to have a facility which is of both local and regional significance."

A Stolkin Properties spokesman said the firm is currently in discussions and hopes to publish its proposals later in the summer.


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