Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Let's get small..."

Be-right-on and Hove Albion's long struggles for a new stadium, since the old Goldstone Ground was sold beneath the fans' feet by an unscrupulous board in the mid-1990s, has been a painstaking, painful process, still now in limbo after two-and-a-half public inquiries, two doorstop planning reports, at least £10million in cash-strapped club costs, an elementary error by John Prescott (or his people) and probably a whole rainforest-worth of Argus pages. For the moment and for the forseeable, the club will continue to play at the dire, only-three-sided Withdean Stadium, actually an amateur (oh-so-amateur) venue that somehow makes even Barnet's Underhill look like the Stade de France by comparison.

The Argus coverage of the Falmer fight (my dim, distant past contributions apart, perhaps) has been unstinting and excellent, but there was one odd little sentence in this weekend's leader article praising the encouraging performance by the newly-formed Seagulls Party in a recent Lewes District Council by-election:

THE pro-Falmer Seagulls party will have turned a few heads by polling upwards of 350 votes in its first election.

Despite the pre-election fanfare this was never a poll which the party, formed only five weeks ago, had any chance of winning.

People in the Ouse Valley and Ringmer ward of Lewes District Council had more pressing matters such as the proposed waste incinerator at Newhaven on their minds when they entered the ballot box.

That Ed Bassford achieved 22 per cent of the total votes cast and beat the Labour candidate to third place is remarkable.

It is evidence that significant numbers of voters in the district are opposed to Lewes District Council's High Court challenge of the Falmer stadium planning permission.

If Ed Bassford can gain so many votes after three weeks, Lib Dem and Tory bigwigs on the council must be worried the Seagulls could swoop and peck a big hole in their majorities at next May's district elections.

Was this Lewes... or Lilliput?

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