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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Fans protest at party conference
Fans march in Brighton
More than 4,000 fans marched in support of the Falmer stadium
Thousands of football supporters have marched past the Labour Party Conference to urge John Prescott to rule in favour of a new stadium.

Police said about 4,000 Brighton and Hove Albion fans marched in support of a new stadium at Falmer.

The plans were first submitted in 2001 but after a lengthy public inquiry no decision has yet been taken.

The club has not had its own stadium since the Goldstone Ground was sold for retail development in 1997.

Team home matches are at Withdean, a small athletics complex.

The traffic in the area gets gridlocked even on a bank holiday
Eric Huxham
Falmer Parish Council

Brighton fan DJ Norman Cook - aka Fatboy Slim - said: "We support a football team and we really need a ground to survive.

"We just can't understand how it takes two years for someone to make up their mind."

And Mark McGhee, club manager, said: "It's important for the club - for the finances, to survive, to develop, to maintain the club at the level they are playing at.

"Purely in the sense of common decency, even if we have 7,000 people at a game they deserve a roof over their head."

The village of Falmer
Falmer residents say there are other locations for the stadium

Norah Fisher, from Brighton and Hove Albion Disabled Supporters, said parts of the Withdean complex were exposed and open to the elements with an "awful" view.

The club first submitted a planning application for a 22,000-seater stadium at Falmer in 2001 but, after a lengthy public inquiry, is still waiting for the deputy prime minister to rule on whether building can go ahead.

A verdict is expected by the end of October.

Local MPs and the city council have backed the planned stadium, but some local residents are not in favour.

Location fears

Eric Huxham, Falmer Parish Council chairman, said: "Villagers support the Albion stadium but it's the location.

"There's no parking. The traffic in the area gets gridlocked even on a bank holiday. What is it going to achieve having a stadium at Falmer when there are other sites?"

But Dick Knight, club chairman, said: "We've been through the longest public inquiry in football history. We have proved conclusively there is only one site.

"Thousands and thousands of people want this stadium and a few don't. Now is the time for the overwhelming wishes of the population to be allowed."




SEE ALSO:
City 'island' in place for Labour
24 Sep 05 |  Southern Counties
Lepper's conference party guide
24 Sep 05 |  UK Politics
Stadium conference march planned
18 Sep 05 |  Southern Counties


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