Brighton and Hove Greens deny scoring own goal against Albion

Posted On 08 Dec 2011 at 8:30 pm

Opposition politicians questioned the Greens’ support for Brighton and Hove Albion after a land deal was pulled at the last minute.

Senior councillors were expected to sign off the deal at a Brighton and Hove City Council cabinet meeting this afternoon (Thursday 8 December).

Under the deal the club would have paid for the old Falmer High School buildings to be demolished, built new premises for The Bridge Community Centre and match-day parking for 1,000 cars.

Now the club must fund a travel survey and agree an acceptable travel plan.

The council appeared to indicate that, even then, it may not hand over the land.

Council leader Bill Randall and Albion chief executive Martin Perry issued a joint statement which Councillor Randall read to the meeting.

He told the cabinet meeting that he wanted the club to flourish and to be able to expand the Amex Community Stadium by 8,000 seats.

But he also wanted transport issues to be addressed, including the parking pressures in neighbouring Moulsecoomb and Coldean.

Mr Perry indicated that the club would still submit a planning application by Christmas as it had intended.

Councillor Warren Morgan, deputy leader of the Labour group of councillors, called the Greens’ move a kick in the teeth for the club.

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the opposition Conservatives, criticised the Greens for bringing things to a sudden stop at such a late stage in the land deal.

The Greens said that the joint statement affirmed the continuing relationship between the club and council.

The statement said: “The council and the football club want the Albion to continue to flourish, bring Premiership football to Brighton and Hove, sustain and develop its highly successful community work, to expand the stadium by 8,000 more seats and create even more jobs.

“We are working together to achieve these goals.

“We have agreed that a travel survey for a 30,000-seater stadium will be produced by independent consultants for the Stadium Transport Management Group and funded by the Albion.

“The terms of reference will be produced jointly by the club and the council.

“As part of that work the consultants will consider the coherent provision of travel options for fans walking or cycling to the ground, using buses or trains and those using their cars.

“Ways of improving bus and car flow and lessening the impact of parking in local areas, particularly in Moulsecoomb and Coldean, will also be considered.

“The Albion has successfully encouraged fans to use public transport and the fans have responded.

“More than two thirds of them travel to and from the ground by public transport on match days, which is about three times the average for other football league grounds. “Together we want to build on this success to make it even easier for fans to get to and from the Amex.

“Some work is already in hand. Next week, for instance, the council is talking to the Department for Transport to discuss funding for bus priority measures in the Lewes Road, which could greatly help bus flow on match days.

“The council and the club are also looking at options for the demolition of the old Falmer School building and the provision of temporary accommodation for The Bridge Community Project, which is part of the fabric of East Brighton.

“Together we will also consider the long-term future of the Falmer Retained Land and find a permanent home for The Bridge.

“This is a vital piece of co-operative work for the football club and the city.”

Councillor Morgan said: “The Greens have confirmed at today’s cabinet meeting, without debate, that they are sticking to their opposition to additional parking at Falmer which was part of the agreement on adding a further 8,000 seats at the Amex.

“Those Albion fans who are desperate for match tickets will take this as another kick in the teeth from the Greens who have always opposed a stadium at Falmer.”

  1. Cllr Jason Kitcat Reply

    “Under the deal the club would have paid for the old Falmer High School buildings to be demolished, built new premises for The Bridge Community Centre and match-day parking for 1,000 cars.”

    As a Cabinet member all I can say is that never was the proposal on offer in the 6 months since Greens took control of the council. There have been negotiations over temporary proposals involving some of what the report suggests. But they were proposals which didn’t permanently resolve the issues for the Club nor The Bridge. We are working with them to find decent permanent solutions, not short term sticking plaster fixes.

    There is a lot of uncertainty around the buildings to be demolished due to asbestos, for example. There is nothing tied up with a bow just waiting for approval. I’m sorry Labour politicians have sought to play on the hopes and fears of the fans in attempt to score points. The joint statement with the Club shows how seriously Greens take these issues for our city.

  2. Patricia Nancy Maggs Reply

    It was a very,very sad day when Hove, who did excellent housekeeping were “shacked up” with Brighton,so Brighton – one never hears Hove mentioned – could become a so called city.
    A city for who? Certainly not for the original Hovites and Brightonians!

  3. Valerie Paynter, saveHOVE Reply

    At Cabinet, Cllr Randall made a key statement which I instantly wrote down. Within his statement at Cabinet, he said, about any agreement struck between the Club and the previous Conservative Administration concerning land use, that “There was no written agreement about the use of the land”.

    No contract! How on EARTH can one proceed without one in place.

    No responsible Administration could legally or morally proceed without one. It’s called a Development Agreement. And there was one between BHCC and Karis in place before any planning application was submitted for the King Alfred.

    To me, this is just so obviously about preventing snarlups, legal disagreements and potential lawsuits, along with potential smoke and mirrors fudging of seriously important detail which must in any case be clarified in the planning application they have yet to submit!

    And in big applications, the applicant (AMEX Stadium) having to produce Environmental Impact Statements for applications always has to use independent expert consultants to produce the proofs that demonstrate viability. In this case a transport plan.

    The planning and eventual expansion of The AMEX must not be about asking the cart to pull the horse.

    I’m disappointed that Warren Morgan feels this is a kick in the teeth for the club. What about the City, its roads and railway use, the buses and capacity there, the residents and the two Universities? I’m horrified that Warren – who I consider to be an able councillor – has so little respect for clear and proper detailed planning.

    It was lack of clear and proper, detailed and adequate information, ahead of the signing of the Development Agreement for King Alfred (with Karis ING)that led to Karis submitting a planning application for a development that was not financially viable – even with the arm-wrestled planning consent organised by the then Labour Administration (over the heads of rebelling planning officers).

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