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.”
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.