Cradley Heathens News Archive

1998 - 2000

September 1998

Dudley Council are currently approaching a review of the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for the area. For Speedway supporters this means the possibility that the land at Dudley Wood can be designated for a specific use. At the moment, the land is neutral and not designated for anything in particular. We are hoping that the council will decide to designate it for sports and leisure use which would significantly discourage the possibility of any future application to build anything else, i.e. housing. There is no likely chance of another change of status on the land until the year 2011. The council have continued to state their support for the return of Speedway racing so there is every indication that they may decide in our favour. However, you can add your support as Dudley Council are inviting letters regarding the UDP. We urge all supporters to write to the following address asking for the designation to be as a stadium to reflect the 50 years use by the Heathens and the decision of the inspector at the public inquiry. The deadline for letters is 30th September, 1998.

Tim Sunter (Council Leader), Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, UDP review, FREEPOST, WV24C, Planning Dept, 3 St James Road, Dudley, DY1 1HZ.

October 1998

Councillor Tim Sunter acknowledges that more letters were received about the site of the former Dudley Wood stadium than anything else in the UDP review. The majority of letters came from concerned locals in the Dudley and Sandwell areas but other correspondence came from all over the world. Signs are that the site will be designated for Sports and Leisure due to the overwhelming support for the proposal.

December 1998


The news which Heathens fans were waiting for came on the 1st December with the announcement that Dudley Council's policy sub- committee have responded to the wishes of more than 150 letters and decided that the site of the ex-Dudley Wood stadium should be zoned for sports and leisure use.
Councillor Tim Sunter received more letters about the issue than on any other subject in the current unitary development plan. The decision will now go to the council for their agreement which should be something of a formality.
We now hope that the door will finally be closed on any further housing applications and any lingering interest from Barratts.
Thanks to everyone who wrote to Dudley council - it is yet another victory for the supporters and for Cradley Speedway.

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January 1999


CRADLEY Heath have been given the green light to resume racing next season - with a series of Conference League challenge fixtures. A loyal group of Heathens fans have held talks with Speedway Control Board Manager David Hughes and Conference League Co-Ordinator Peter Morrish with a view to getting the famous Heathens back on track. And the club are already urging fans to back the scheme by becoming members of the new organisation when they hold a meeting at Cradley Labour Club, Stourbridge Road, Colley Gate. It takes place next Friday, January 15 when there will also be an update on the fight for a return to Dudley Wood.

'Club CH' will be a subsiduary organisation of Cradley Heath Speedway Ltd and will be run by supporters who agree to join. Ian Shelton, a lifelong Heathens fan, is the backbone behind the scheme and he will be Chairman with another fan, Nigel Nicklin, taking on the role of Secretary.

Shelton said: "Above anything else this will get the name Cradley Heath back on track and we are already looking forward to visiting places like Mildenhall, Buxton, St Austell and Newport. We cannot sign a team because we are not actually entering a league, but we will ask for permission to approach riders with a view to assembling a squad for us to choose from. It will be our intention to run transport in the form of a coach or minibus to the fixtures and it will be a great day or night out for supporters. We anticipate seeing a lot of the crowd who were part of Respect The Flag - a group of fans who would die for Cradley Heath. I would urge all Cradley fans to come to the meeting next Friday because it will also be a good chance to look at ways in which we are going to oppose the next planning application from Barratts at Dudley Wood."

"Bob Edwards and Margaret Hardiman, from our CRASH - Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens - committee will be on hand to answer any questions on the Dudley Wood side of things. We want the rest of British Speedway to know Cradley Heath are still alive and kicking and we are still as determined as ever to see the sport back at Cradley Heath. Shelton is encouraged by the backing he has had from Hughes and Morrish and he feels sure Cradley's appearance at tracks will boost attendances for the host clubs. This will benefit a lot of people, it will give Conference League clubs extra meetings, there will be team places for British riders to gain extra experience and Cradley fans will again have a team to support," said Shelton. "Having said that, I am realistic enough to acknowledge the standard of speedway may not appeal to everyone - but I still hope to see good support at next week's meeting."

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March 1999


Since the success of the UDP review where Dudley Council decided that Dudley Wood should be re-zoned as sports and leisure land there have been responses from both Barratts and CRASH, the supporters' action group:

The bad news is that Barratts have incredibly announced that they will not yet relinquish their interest in the site. They have had one planning application refused by both Dudley Council and an independent Government inspector at a public inquiry and they have suffered other blows including the planned re-zoning of the land which will not be due for review until the year 2011. However, the company have stated that they have revised their application and made the necessary changes to counter the reasons why the last application was thrown out. We do not know when this application will be lodged.

While that may sound like a tough blow for the fans to respond to, there are in fact huge holes which Barratts will not be able to fill. Some of the previous reasons for refusal have included the loss of buffer land between housing on one side of the site and industry on the other. The Speedway track always served that purpose and Barratts' plans never will. Another important reason given is the loss of a sports facility, and any revisions will not change that unless the Heathens are back in action.

Unsurprisingly then, the supporters have responded to Barratts positively by reiterating the continued determination to oppose any plans that may be submitted. CRASH have publicly asked Barratts to relinquish their interest in the site but will continue to fight on, even if the housing company does not back down.

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May 1999


Following the departure of Councillor David Savage who has now emigrated to Australia, Councillor John Walters (Gornal) has agreed to take up the fight to return the Heathens to Dudley Wood.The former stadium is now in a derelict state and the fencing around the site has been damaged by vandals, allowing trespassers to gain access. Walters is a former supporter of the Heathens and he is only too happy to offer his services in trying to get the Heathens back where they belong. Councillor Walters said "I know how much the club and the stadium mean to the people of Dudley and Cradley Heath, I have been impressed with the way the club and their fans have campaigned for the return of this much needed leisure facility and I will do all I can to ensure the council continue to provide support".

Bob Edwards on behalf of CRASH (Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens) said, "John's assistance is very welcome, with David Savage's help we fought off Barratts and their planning applications twice, now with John's help I am confident we can do the same again."

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August 1999


Yes you read it correctly, and yes it is the Jan O. Pedersen that we all know and love. The 'diminutive dane' who spent ten seasons with the Heathens from 1983 to 92 finally made a racing comeback - but for one match only. It was the 25th anniversary celebration of the Vojens track in Denmark owned by Ole Olsen and following the recent World Under 21 Championship, won by England's Lee Richardson, a series of competitive races were held involving old and current international stars.

The meeting included a pairs event featuring, among others, Ivan Mauger and Jason Crump, Peter Collins and Mark Loram, as well as Zenon Plech, Jiri Stancl and Chris Morton. Former Heathens Anders Michanek and Bruce Penhall were also scheduled to ride but could not make it. There then followed some match races which pitted our Jano against some of todays top riders including Australian number one, Jason Crump. In his first competitve speedway racing since his career-ending accident in 1992, he amazingly took to the track and won every race.

Everyone at the event was impressed with how quick Jano was and how little his style and ability had changed. So much so that in an even further twist to the story, he was approached by Wolves promoter Chris Van Straaten to make a full-time return to the British Elite league with the Monmore side. Pedersen still has a house in Brierley Hill in the Midlands, and is involved in speedway testing a new rev limiter in the UK. He is also a successful businessman and has broken into the world of saloon car racing. Unsurprisingly though, he turned down Van Straaten's ambitious offer and ruled out any permanent return to two wheels.

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October 11th 1999


Wolverhampton 52

Jesper B. Jensen 2 2 3 1'- 8+1
John Jorgensen 1' 1' 2 1 -5+2
Mikael Karlsson 3 3 3 3 3 -15
Charlie Gjedde 2' 1 2' 3 -8+2
Ronnie Correy (G) 3 2 3 2 1-11
Richard Juul 2 1' 0 2'-5+2
Derrol Keats 0 0 0 0 -0

Cradley Heath 38

Mark Loram (G)3 2 2 1' 0 -8+1
Les Collins 0 1 0 -1
Peter Nahlin 1 3 0 2 -6
Gert Handberg 0 E 1 -1
Billy Hamill 2 3 1 2 3 2 -13
Grant McDonald 0 1 0 0 -1
Dave Walsh 3 1' 3 1' 0 - 8

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Sven Heiding

Former Heathens director, Sven Heiding, has died suddenly at his home in Sweden. Heiding was involved with Cradley Speedway as recently as 1996 during the exiled year at Stoke. He was instrumental in bringing to Cradley riders including Jonathan Forsgren and Dalle Anderson and served the club well during one of its most difficult times. Since leaving the Heathens, Heiding was still involved with the likes of Billy Hamill at his Swedish team, Smederna, and was also well respected as the international Grand Prix riders representative. He will be sadly missed to the sport and our condolensces go to all his friends and family.

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January 13th 2000

There will be a general meeting with an update from Bob Edwards on behalf of the supporters group, CRASH, following the AGM of Club Cradley Heath. The double-meeting takes place on Sunday 16th January at Cradley Heath Liberal Club, Bank Street, Cradley Heath. The evening kicks off at 8pm.

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January 14th 2000

Billy Hamill is currently competing in the International Speedway Masters Series, promoted by David Tapp in Australia. Billy is lying second to Leigh Adams at the half way stage of the Grand Prix style event ... Hamill and Hancock are yet to put pen to paper but look set to team up with Colin Pratt again at Coventry for the 2000 season ... 1995 reserve John Wilson has sent a plea to Premier League promoters to snap him up after a season out of the saddle ... 1996 favourite, Les Collins has signed for Glasgow and will be joined at Ashfield by son Aidan, who impressed with the Club CH side last year.

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January 16th 2000

 Update from CRASH

Latest update from Bob Edwards on the situation regarding Dudley Wood, is that there are various avenues currently being pursued and more positive feedback from both Dudley council and even Barratts.
On the council front, the infamous UDP review is now at an advanced stage with a final draft due to be published in early March. This will open the way for any comments or objections on the decisions - a time where Speedway supporters are urged to back the plans to retain more sports ground in the borough. More details on that will be here in due course.
With regard to the housing developers, Barratts, there has been some correspondence with the chairman of the company's Central Division who has indicated that the ongoing cost of the Dudley Wood situation is being closely monitored.
And finally, there remains a continuing interest in the council's planning policy, also known as 'ppg17', which is hopefully being followed up by local MP, Ian Pearson. The significance of this technicality is that a favourable outcome of any change to the policy could mean a lower re-evaluation of the land value at Dudley Wood.
With many irons in the fire, it is hoped the year 2000 will bring further progression on several fronts, all contributing to the ongoing intention to see Speedway return to the Wood. More news on here as soon as it is available.

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January 30th 2000

Billy Hamill had to settle for third place overall in his debut appearance of the International Speedway Masters Series in Australia. After spending most of the 13-round series in a comfortable second place behind eventual winner Leigh Adams, Billy took a nasty crash in the final round which allowed Todd Wiltshire to sneak ahead of him on the rostrum. Billy was taken to hospital after the heat four accident but was later discharged with no serious injury. While in Oz, he has agreed the formalities of a deal to return to Coventry in 2000 along with Greg Hancock, who has also now signed for the Bees.

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February 8th 2000

Belle Vue Aces have swooped to make the shock signing of former Swedish Under-21 international, Daniel Andersson. Dalle joins another ex-Heathen, Peter Nahlin at Kirky Lane in 2000 in a bid to kick-start his British career which has suffered ever since his loss of form with Cradley in 1996. He starts the season at reserve on a potentially low average of about 3.15. Nahlin meanwhile will begin as heatleader and possibly even with the number one race-jacket.
There will also be more Dudley Wood favourites back in action in the Premier League this year. Young John Wilson returns to action with Arena Essex and links up with old team mate Troy Pratt at Purfleet; Grant McDonald has been snapped up by Newcastle to join Stuart Swales in the Diamonds septet. Both were also with the Heathens in 1996 at Stoke.
Completing the impressive list of old Cradley boys in the PL are Scott Smith beginning a new start at Berwick, Dave Walsh moving to Stoke, Paul Fry bound for Swindon, and Les Collins back at Glasgow in the same team as his son, Aidan.
We wish them all well, along with Peter & Dalle in Manchester, Greg & Billy at Coventry, and one more old boy in Dean Barker, still with Eastbourne.

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March 1st 2000

ONE of the backbones behind the administration side of the former Dudley Wood Stadium has died.
Nola Smith was employed full-time in the offices and continued to work for the new speedway consortium when they took over from Derek Pugh. Nola was at the stadium for almost 20-years and was always a popular figure with speedway management, staff and riders at Cradley Heath. She lost her fight for life after a short illness and everyone at Cradley Heath Speedway Ltd would like to acknowledge her tremendous contribution to the club.

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March 21st 2000

It was fascinating TV viewing for Heathens fans last night as house-builders Barratts were publicly shamed by BBC1's Panorama programme. The documentary focused on numerous sites around the country on which Barratts have built on contaminated land, often containing industrial waste or on 'brownfield' sites near to dangerous chemical works.
The programmme went on to report that the berated builders now face hoardes of complaints, government investigations and possible legal action, with customers left in the dark about their homes and even losing their life savings.
On a Lighter Note!... Its Billy Hamill's Testimonial this Sunday - March 26th (1.30pm) at Coventry. Make sure you're there for a fantastic day of entertainment. Billy gave several years service to Cradley and was with us from day one of his British career. He has a lot of affection for Cradley fans and I've no doubt that it is totally mutual as this guy was our number one rider and provided some of the most memorable racing around Dudley Wood in the 90s. Turn up and show your support - I'll see you on the first/second bend!

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April 17th 2000


Notice was given by Dudley Council on Saturday 15th April that Barratt Homes have submitted a second planning application to build on the site of the former Dudley Wood stadium. The housing giants, recently attacked by BBC's Panorama for building on contaminated sites, once again want to replace the Heathens home since 1947 with the erection of 116 houses.
A previous application was fought and won in 1996 at the appeal stage by Dudley Council along with the Speedway club. Objections at the time were received on numerous grounds and the final decision to refuse the application was taken by a Government appointed inspector following a five-day public inquiry.
At the time of writing, the news is yet to hit the local headlines, but is sure to attract a high level of attention during the coming weeks from both local Dudley residents and the still enthusiastic Cradley supporters. This site will be kept fully up to date with all future developments, as they happen.

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April 18th 2000


Bob Edwards, spokesman for CRASH (Cradley Raising Aid Saving Heathens) has responded to the new planning application from Barratt Homes with an important message for all Cradley Speedway supporters.
"Dudley Council still firmly support the return of the Stadium facility to the site but they need to have clear evidence that there is still significant public support for the return of the Stadium."
It is down to us, as Heathens supporters, to provide that evidence."

It is down to all Cradley fans to reiterate your support now. You may wish to refer to either the Council's original rejection in 1996 or the Planning inspectors appeal rejection in 1997. Feel free to refer to the Dudley Wood story from the last five years, which remains on this site in both detail and summary versions.
The main point however is to stress your point as strongly as possible, to ensure the Council have enough support to reject the application once again."
This site is currently receiving around 250 hits per week, which itself gives a good indication at the interest that still remains in the club.

Letters do not need to contain any technical detail, but simply need to express your feelings in wanting to see the site retained for the use of speedway racing. The message is an urgent one though.
Letters must arrive by 29th April 2000 to the address below.
Please spread the word and encourage all fellow supporters to do the same.

Letters should be sent to Roger Johnson, Chief Planning and Leisure Officer, Dudley MBC, Planning Dept, 3 St James Road, Dudley, West Midlands, UK.
The reference number is P00/50617.

"Barratts probably reckon that we have lost interest and forgotten what Saturday night at Dudley Wood meant. Now is our opportunity to prove them wrong. Make Sure You Do!"

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28th April 2000


Stop Press! For anyone outside the UK, or anyone who has yet to send their objections by post to Dudley Council, you can e-mail Cllr John Walters to express your views. All messages will be passed on to the relevant planning officers. The address to contact is

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April 30th 2000


The consultation period for objections to Barratts latest planning application has now been extended. The original deadline for the submission of objections was 29th April but Dudley Council has now confirmed that they will take into account any objections recieved after that date due to the importance of this issue It is good news for us as we will be able to advertise Barratts latest application so that more comments can be made.

If you have not yet written to Dudley Council the address is:

Roger Johnson, Chief Planning and Leisure Officer, Dudley MBC, Planning Department, 3 St James Road, Dudley, West Midlands, UK.

- or if you prefer to email the address is in the Stop Press! below.

For those who have already mailed we thank you all very much.
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18th May 2000


Its a BIG Thank You to everyone who has sent letters and e-mails of objection to Dudley Council in response to Barratts second housing application last month. Cllr John Walters spent 45 minutes one morning printing off e-mails from concerned fans, while it is estimated that the planning department have so far received around 250 separate objections.
The Council are particularly delighted that a number of letters recieved are not from speedway supporters but from local people who recognise what the loss of this important community asset has meant to the Borough.
With the consultation period specially extended right up to the consideration of the plans, if you know anyone who has yet to make their representation to the council, then pass on the contact addresses below. The plans are expected to be considered in July.


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21st May 2000


MP for Dudley South Ian Pearson has written to campaigners fighting to secure the return of Speedway to Dudley Wood Stadium to set out his position on the issue. In a letter to Bob Edwards of CRASH he said:
"I am still opposed to any proposals for the site to be used for residential development. I have written to the Chief Planning and Leisure Officer to make him aware of my objections.
I want to see Speedway back in Dudley Wood and I assure you that I will continue to oppose any plans to develop this site for housing."
Bob Edwards said: "Mr Pearson has supported the campaign from the outset and even raised the issue of Dudley Wood in his maiden speech in the House of Commons. Since then he has been actively encouraging the Government to address the issue of protecting key sports facilities from applications such as this. His continued involvement is greatly appreciated and adds considerable weight to the case for rejection of the application. We are increasingly confident that the council will turn Barratts down for the third time."

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11th July 2000


The recent planning application from Barratts, which has now received around 350 letters of objection, is expected to be considered by Dudley Council at the end of this month. Meanwhile, the final draft of the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) is available for public display at the planning department, and contains two clauses which are specifically aimed at retaining sports and leisure facilities such as Dudley Wood. Forms have been produced for the public to register their responses to the plan and can be downloaded here: [Page 1 / Page 2], or collected from the planning department. More details on the plan, and the relevant clauses can also be found on the latest Editorial article.
N.B. Additional Notes on completing the UDP response form:
Please note there are two pages to the form, not one as originally indicated here. The relevant information for section 2 is as follows: Policy Number - LR6 and LR7; Subject - Major Sports Facilities; Page - 258.
Remember also that we are supporting the council's proposals, and don't be confused by the fact that we're so used to objecting to Barratts plans! Sections 4, 5 and 6 on the second page of the form may be left blank, and the bottom of the form just signed before posting.
If you have already returned the form as a single page, don't worry - your comments will still be noted.

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26th July 2000


The message for all Cradley supporters and fans of British Speedway alike, is Download Your Forms Now!!
Dudley Council have provided standard forms to complete for responses to their initial UDP proposals (see below for more details), and are inviting fans to express their support for the report. The planning review backs the return of sport and speedway to Dudley Wood under the heading of Major Sports Facilities, and the task is now down to fans to send in their forms to back up the council's positive intentions.
They recently received in the region of 350 letters objecting to Barratts planning application for the site, but the figures for the returned UDP forms are well below that at present. We urgently need more forms returned to prove the strength of feeling behind the continuing campaign.
On the subject of Barratts, their application will now not be considered this month, and may have to wait until after council holidays in August. The date will be advised on the web site when available, to allow fans to turn up outside the council chambers if they wish, but we understand the current delay may be centred around identifying exactly what the housing developers intend to do to address the noise problem which dominated the previous attempt and subsequent rejection.
Please refer to the news article below, and the current Editorial for further details on the UDP and the response form available via the site.

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8th August 2000


Grant MacDonald, who rode for Cradley for a season in 1996, was seriously injured in a car crash in Germany last weekend. He was travelling back from the World Under 21 qualifier in Sweden along with Aussies Travis MacGowan and Kevin Doolan, and driver Tom Graham.
Thankfully, the injuries are not as bad as first thought and not life-threatening, and Grant is able to move all his limbs. However he has suspected broken vertebra in his neck and further head injuries and lacerations. His season has certainly been ended by the accident where he came off worse than any other passengers as the van rolled over several times shedding bikes and luggage from the back. The news made the Dudley Express & Star as well as the Newcastle rider's home town local paper in Barrow. We send Grant all our best wishes from the web site & Cradley Speedway.

N.B. Moving on to the subject of Dudley Wood; this week represents your last late late opportunity to register your views on the draft UDP review. See below for more details and get your forms or letters in by 11th August if possible.

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5th Sept 2000


Its September already and a month which should bring further news for Cradley fans on the situation regarding Dudley Wood. There are two separate fronts being openly pursued: the planning application by Barratts to build on the land and the Unitary Development Plan recently proposed by the local council.
Firstly, the planning application. There is no need to worry about the unfortunate delay in this being considered. The council have been clear in their position regarding Dudley Wood and nothing has occurred to change their stance. Clarification has been sought from Barratts, but the company's plans have seen very little change from the previous rejection in 1996.
Secondly, the UDP. I understand that well over 200 letters or forms were received in support of the relevant proposals regarding sports facilities. However, as there are sure to have been a minor number of objections as well, these will have to be addressed in the next stage of the lengthy process. The overall response was good news for Speedway fans and it is widely hoped that the proposals will finally be adopted and in place for the next ten years, in Spring 2001.
To read more about the UDP in detail, visit Dudley Council's dedicated UDP web pages.

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18th Sept 2000


Supporters action group, CRASH, have issued a statement following the successful response to the consultation period of the Dudley UDP review. The council actually received more than 250 letters of support for their backing of Dudley Wood as sports ground, with only a handful of objections.
As anyone who has read the process of the UDP will realise though, the objections do have to be addressed, by public inquiry if necessary. But with Barratts' latest planning application also expected to be rejected by the council, the developers face the prospect of two public inquiries should they wish to continue down the seemingly ridiculous road of wanting houses on the site. The council have clearly stated their intentions once again with the UDP and the great support received from fans provides the perfect platform for any further action that may be required.
Our favourite spokesman, Bob Edwards added of Barratts long fight ahead: "The cost to their shareholders would be considerable with no gurantee of success and we cannot understand that a site that is so needed by the community and plagued by mine shafts can be worth it".

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6th October 2000


No news has filtered through from any sources about Dudley Wood over the last couple of weeks. The public response to the UDP and the planning application were very much in our favour, but as usual its very much a case of waiting for the next move again.
The consideration of Barratts applicaiton is still imminent although no date has been confirmed. Hopefully news will arrive on this matter very shortly.
With regard to the UDP, anyone who has not visited the link to Dudley Council's dedicated web pages, may not realise that there is still a long way to go in the lengthy process. The council states that "negotiation will be attempted to secure withdrawal of objections where possible and appropriate." Any objections not withdrawn are likely to result in a public inquiry some time next year. When adopted however, the plan will run until the year 2011 with no further opportunity for amendment until that time.
Be sure that any available news will be reported on this site as soon as it is available.

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1st November 2000


At last, November may be the month that finally brings the long-anticipated council planning meeting to consider the application submitted by Barratts earlier in the year.
The delay has dragged on after councillors contacted the much-maligned house builders for specific details about their proposed noise extraction for the neighbouring Kimber Die drop forge. Barratts were due to return their answers to the council, but have so far failed to deliver a response.
It seems that the council may soon give up waiting, and put the application to the planning committee during the next month. As ever, all parties concerned have demonstrated their desire to get a quick outcome to the debacle - except for the "big company" builders.
Meanwhile, the latest on the UDP process is that it is expected to go to a public inquiry due to the small number of objections received regarding the council's proposed policies. The plan did of course draw a much greater amount of supporters than objectors, as it backed the retention of existing sports ground, such as the historical Dudley Wood site.

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21st November 2000


After months of speculation and endless waiting around, the second planning application from Barratts to build houses on Dudley Wood is finally to be considered by the local council.
The meeting takes place at six o'clock next Monday, the 27th November. It is a public meeting to be held at the Council House, but it should be stressed that a public show of force by speedway fans is not necessary, due to the massive volume of objections already lodged regarding the issue.
It seems that Barratts have at last replied to the council's request regarding the noise issue, and in response the council are now likely to insist that if the matter is again taken to a public inquiry, the company will have to pay all costs should they be unsuccessful.
In addition to this welcome news, it has been confirmed that a development company willing to re-build a Speedway stadium at the venue are still interested and the possibility of a Compulsory Purchase Order has not been ruled out for the future.

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27th November 2000


At Dudley Council's November planning meeting tonight (27/11/00), Barratts second planning application to build houses on the former Dudley Wood stadium was unanimously and overwhelmingly rejected by officials.
The formalities were completed in just around ten minutes due to the complete absence of representation from both the developers and local residents. Bob Edwards spoke on behalf of Speedway supporters and made the points that virtually nothing has changed from Barratts. As reported on the Heathens web site first earlier this year, the plans submitted were almost identical to those refused in 1995, just with a covering letter regarding the contentious noise issue. From the Heathens point of view however, there had been significant advances. The sport is well and truly embarking on a massive revival with further increased Sky Sports coverage, major sponsorship and the British GP at the Millenium Stadium next year. There was also further evidence of mine-shafts on the site which would have a serious effect on any potential housing to be built and the unitary development plan which defends the loss of major sporting facilities such as ours is well on the way. In addition, the web site is still currently receiving approximately 200 hits per week which illustrates the continued interest both locally, nationally and internationally in the plight of one of the worlds most famous speedway clubs.
To back up the statements and the final decision, there were brief speeches of support from three different councillors. The letters of support for the return of speedway racing now number 339, whilst seven local residents have voiced their disapproval.
Barratts once again have the option to appeal against the decision but may now be forced to pay the costs for both sides, should they lose for what would effectively be the FOURTH time of asking.

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30th November 2000: Club and Supporters Respond to Application Refusal

After the excellent news this week regarding the council's second refusal of a Barratts planning application, both the club and the Heathens supporters have responded with statements of thanks and encouragement.
The fight continues with Barratts now facing another decision on whether to appeal, but Cradley director Dave Pottinger was quoted on ITV teletext saying, "Its been five years since we lost our stadium and people thought that we'd go away - we have proved them wrong".
Supporters spokesman and campaign stalwart Bob Edwards said "Naturally we are delighted with the outcome. We were confident that the importance of the stadium facility to the local community would persuade the Council to reject the Application and we are grateful for their continued support in this long running battle.
"The leisure issues coupled with the noise problems from the adjacent drop forge meant that the decision was clear cut and we now hope that Barratts have finally got the message that this site will not be released for housing".
Looking ahead now to the more constructive issues of restoring former glories at the stadium, he continued "We will continue to press the Council to take steps to bring about the return of speedway to the site in line with their proposals in the UDP".
The only response so far from Barratts quoted in Express & Star 30th November is that they will wait and see the reasons why the planning application was refused before deciding on the best way forward.

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6th December 2000: Councillors Justify Decision

News of Dudley Council's planning refusal filtered through to various media outlets last week including the regional Express & Star and the local Dudley and Halesowen News. One of the most informative articles of all appeared in the free Chronical Newspaper, which quoted several different Dudley Councillors involved in the planning consideration.
John Mainwearing, head of the planning department, said that approval of Barratt's scheme would mean the loss of an established sports and recreation facility and was contrary to current planning guidelines. He reffered to an overriding need to retain a sports facility in the area and stated that residential development would conflict with the borough's impending unitary development plan.
The committee vice-chairman, Cllr Rosemary Tomkinson added that one of the Council's main reasons for rejecting the scheme was that the development would be built close to a drop forging factory.
The final word however, rests with deputy leader, Cllr Cyril Woodall, who said "This council aims to put Dudley in the first division in all aspects and by keeping this site for sport we could propel the town into the first division for speedway.

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The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Cradley Heath Speedway.
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