West Row: Mildenhall Stadium could close after Supreme Court judgement leaves it facing massive legal bill

Mildenhall Fen Tigers Speedway team race at Mildenhall Stadium Mildenhall Fen Tigers Speedway team race at Mildenhall Stadium

Thursday, February 27, 2014
10:32 AM

The future of one of west Suffolk’s biggest sports stadiums has been plunged into doubt after a landmark ruling from the highest court in the land left its owners facing a legal bill worth up to £2million.

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The Supreme Court yesterday ruled in favour of Katherine Lawrence and Raymond Shields after a six-year legal battle with Mildenhall Stadium - home of the Mildenhall Fen Tigers.

The couple moved to a house just 560 metres from the stadium in 2006, and began legal proceedings two years later over disruption noise from the stadium was causing.

The debate has since been heard in three courtrooms - the High Court ruled in favour of Ms Lawrence and Mr Shields in 2011, but this ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal. However, yesterday’s verdict restored the original High Court judgement.

Dave Coventry, one of the stadium’s owners, said its future was now in doubt due to the restrictions that could be placed on the stadium and the potential legal costs, which the 59-year-old believed could run close to £2m.

He said yesterday his reaction was “between disbelief and dismay”, adding: “We never anticipated losing at the Supreme Court having won unanimously at appeal.

“I don’t understand how we can have no complaints from anyone for 30 years, and then this happens. There will be public outcry.

“This is the end of what we’ve worked for since we left school. All the money we’ve accumulated over the years, it’s in one pot. The impact will be unbelievable.”

As well as being entitled to £20,000 in damages from the stadium operators, Ms Lawrence and Mr Shields can also implement an injunction on activities at the stadium should their home ever be rebuilt, having been destroyed by fire in June 2010.

Fifty-one people work at the stadium, while a number of local businesses rely on its activities for work. As well as speedway meetings, the stadium hosts banger, stock car and greyhound racing.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers chairman Ken Jolly said yesterday the ruling was a “big disappointment”, but that it was business as usual for the time being.

He said: “As far as we are concerned nothing changes with regard to Mildenhall Speedway, and we will continue to run until it is no longer possible, should that day ever arrive.

“This is obviously a big disappointment for the stadium owners, who had hoped today would bring an end to this matter and remove a cloud that has been hanging over the stadium before we took over the running of the Fen Tigers.

“Everything is in place for the start of the season. We are looking forward to this year with great enthusiasm.”

Mr Coventry mentioned a case involving Naomi Campbell and the Daily Mirror newspaper, where the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the payment of disproportionate legal bills compared to costs, but he did not yet know if this was a viable option.

He said: “I’m trying to take it all in, trying to comprehend what’s happened and grab some glimmer of hope from a dark day. We’ll just carry on running our business for as long as possible.

“In a nutshell, there will be two reasons the stadium could close - the restrictions are finally imposed, which are unworkable. Secondly, it’s the costs. The costs are going to be the issue that directs whether we’re going to continue or not.”

28 comments

  • amsterdam81 is clearly on here to take an unreasonable view 'for effect'. "Over recent years several thousand houses have been built much nearer the stadium than used to be the case and there are now many more events, both motor cycles and cars, and fireworks are frequently used. Is it reasonable that this should continue?" Well obviously yes!!! The council wouldn't have approved the housing if the noise would be deemed unreasonable, AND PEOPLE WOULDN'T HAVE BOUGHT THE HOUSES IF THEY WERE GOING TO BE UPSET BY THE NOISE FROM MOTORSPORTS!

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    ScottWayne

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • What the actual hell??! I turn 20 in 5 days and I've been going to that track since I was 10 days old! That makes that track there from 1994 and even before! They move in in 2006 and they complain??! That track had already been there 12 years! Why should it change now?! I'm a massive fan of the banger and stock car racing! That track is my home away from home! Spend my weekends there rain or shine! Or even snow!! That place is home to so many people, not just the cars, but the bikes too! This just makes my blood boil knowing that it may be shut down because of 2 boring sods! If you don't like it, move the hell away like most people do! Don't ruin hundreds or even thousands of people's weekends, passion, love, home from home just because you don't like the noise!! I guess it'll be the air base next seeming the planes fly over pretty much every day!!

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    LJM

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • I think it is disgraceful that people can move in next to a stadium and try to get it closed or think they even have the right to exercise money from it, what will £20,000 do is it all they are after money. surely they new the track was there. these people that move near a complex like this then try and get it closed should be asked to leave there house.go back to where you come from.

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    webbo

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Amsterdam81 - You're clearly not a speedway fan judging by your quotation of the word "sport" in your very first trolling post - so already you have a bias and seemingly NO interest in the situation at Mildenhall given that you've stated that you live near Foxhall. So I put it to you that you are here simply to troll, to go against the masses in order to stir up aggression. I also think you may need a visit to Foxhall as you've clearly not been there for several years if you think the state of the place has stood still, again it seems to me (at least) that you are only on here to troll, your claims of running in winter are totally incorrect (Speedway is a mostly summer sport due to weather conditions), your claim of them not using silencers is also way off the mark, silencers have been used since I was going some 35+ years and in more recent years there have been even more regulation of the noise brought on by a similar situation at Perry Bar in the West Midlands (I believe), before each speedway meeting each and every bike has to be inspected and a big part is to ensure the baffles of the silencers aren't loose etc - again if you'd ever been to a speedway meeting in the last 4-5 years you'd know all this. Ipswich Speedway are very considerate to their neighbours (despite being there a lot longer than most of them), air horns aren't allowed, the PA system is kept to a reasonable level and with it being located amongst trees then a lot of the noise is baffled out and there is little to no light pollution. So taking, your obvious anti-speedway biased stance out of the equation for a moment, what would you suggest to keep this pair of NIMBY's happy? Electric bikes that make no noise? Maybe they should ride around on foam with smooth tyres? How about removing the PA system all together? Speedway has been part of Ipswich live since before you were born (I'd imagine) and I hope it'll be here long after you're gone. And before you mention my obvious pro-speedway stance, I bought a house 2 doors away from a pub, the only time I've complained about the noise from it was when they left their jukebox on blaring out at 3am in the middle of the week and when the travellers were in town and there was a small riot in the street outside it! I expected there to be noise mostly on a Friday and Saturday night that goes on to about midnight, no problem. I'd rather it wasn't there (obviously!) but I'm not going to demand thousands of pounds from them and insist they stop trading! Lastly, with technology in this day and age I'd of thought that a quick look at the are of the house they are planning to buy on Google Maps would of shown up any nearby motorsport stadiums aitports pubs nightclubs churches football grounds or anything else that makes the slightest bit of noise! I hope this gets (rightfully) thrown out again and they have to pay even more court costs. Jules

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    Julian Sumner

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Whatever happened to live and let live? We can't all enjoy the same interests or sports but we seem to live in a time where people will only tolerate things they enjoy. Close Mildenhall stadium that's fine but only if the same set of rules apply to everyone and not just the few. Surely this ruling opens the door for say a Man City fan to complain about noise disruption from Man Utd's ground and effectively have that shut down???? One persons noise nuisance is part of another persons relaxation pleasure. Be careful what you wish for.

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    Andrew Tilley

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • The only sad individual here is you amsterdam81 and if you had been to Foxhall Stadium recently, you would have observed the recent developments and investments made by the private owners. These developments and many more will ensure that the stadium is here to stay for a very long time. Get used to it and do keep abreast before posting ludicrous comments.

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    David White

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • This is exactly the sort of decision you would expect from a government court. ..... One couple move into an area with a historical stadium and decide they dont want it....yet the court are quite happy to ruin hundreds of peoples lives for them..... Not only will thousands of hobbiests be affected, many businesses , 40plus workers and most of all the family who have put their life into this stadium will be ruined. Where is the justice???

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    nateholmes

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • 'Paul E', this type of thing was done at Foxhall a few years back now. Some local whining idiot (the same sort of persons as this discussion is about I expect) threw so many toys out of their pram, that in the end a curfew was put on the place (well the speedway at least, not sure about banger racing, but I imagine its the same?) that saw meetings had to end by 10pm. On failing that the PA system and pretty much anything else that made noise had to be silenced (except the bikes of course), It hasn't ruined the speedway and yes, it could of turned out a lot worse, but it does make meetings seem more 'rushed' and it can be awkward on some occasions, if for instance a meeting needs to start late or are held up for a period of time due to weather or a nearby accident where riderspublic are on the drag, more often than not these meetings are just cancelled to save the hassle, normally at the 11th hour and I can imagine at the annoyance of travelling fans ... But as has been said time and time again with this kind of thing, this isn't rocket science, if you don't like something, don't do it, not think "I don't like something, but if I cry loud enough they will change it just for me", these people seem not to care about anyone else other than their own selfish gains and personally if I had been the judge, I would of told these people two words, and the second one would of been 'off', and then fined them for wasting my time.

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    Stefen Sumner

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • An ex Long Eaton supporter (dare I mention!) living in Lincolnshire close to where the Red Arrows practice, think I'll have to complain about their noise. But I agree with all of you.

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    Graham Hall

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • No mention that this area is right at the end of Mildenhall Runway!

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    Simon Burton

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • People like this really get on my chimes, the stadium was clearly there before they decided to settle in and to then to start getting judgmental about the area they have moved into? It's nothing short of a joke. So they didn't do a bit of basic homework about the area first before moving, that's their issue, not the stadiums, if they don't like it, maybe they should clear off instead of trying to ruin it for everyone else because it "upsets them", made worse by the fact that they don't even live in the house, or haven't done for the past 4 years? It's like moving to the UK, complaining about the weather and expecting something to be done about it? ... Appears that yet another long standing entertainment venue is going to be heavily restricted to the point where it probably wont be viable to run, and then there is all the lives of those people connected to it, some of which have given everything they have, including their generations before them, these people have given most of their time and money into running a public entertainment venue, ultimately for the public and all to be ruined by a couple who seem more selfishly interested in themselves over everyone elses, despite it being their own fault and no-one elses. Shame on the judges who saws this as anymore than a farce, which is exactly what it is.

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    Stefen Sumner

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Contributors to this blog seem to have lost the plot. Houses at Rushmere, Kesgrave and Foxhall only exist because council planners have approved them and soon there will be a further 2000 new houses at Martlesham. Foxhall was a noise issue in the 1950's but there were only a few meetings and always in winter I think. Now we have noise all year long. Cars and motor bikes are not allowed to make lots of noise on the roads and there are no reasons that cars and bikes at Foxhall should not be fitted with silencers. Why is this not required? When there is a public noise nuisance the local council has the power to take enforcement action. Why don't they?

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • I'm a Cradley Heathens fan and I love my visits to West Row. Some people don't understand the joy speedway gives to honest, upright family groups as well as to the handicapped and the lonely. It's such an innocent sport where there's never any trouble and fans from different clubs can mingle and chat. When Mildenhall's Daniel Halsey beat our Lewis Blackbird with an outside pass around the fence on the last bend last season I thought the roof was coming off the stadium. It was wonderful to see such unbridled joy and enthusiasm. It makes one want to weep when some people wish to deny us such innocent pleasures.

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    catadorer

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • amsterdam81 - next you'll be telling me that we should move the sea back near Martello Park in Felixstowe because it might flood the new homes there. Why should developers be allowed to put houses up where they like and then the residents who move in be able to object to either natural or man-made features that were there many years before their houses were? If you don't like the sound of a Speedway track, don't move into a house that's been built next to one. Simple!

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    paul e.

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Whether it's bike engines, church bells or music, few things make my blood boil more than people who move into an area then complain about a 'noise disruption' from something that's existed happily for decades before they chose to live there knowing this. How can a council EVER rule in favour of such idiots? Of course there'll be loud ringing on a Sunday if you move in beside a village church! Of course there'll be loud music if you move next to a gig venue! Of course there'll be motorbike noise if you move into an area with a speedway track! Buy a house somewhere else if you don't want to hear it! And that's before you even get to the punchline in this story about how the house in question isn't even there anymore because it BURNT DOWN FOUR YEARS AGO! Jesus... I moved in beside a football ground - so near I could watch the matches from my back window - and yes it's noisy with the tannoy, music, fans etc once a week but I chose to live hear knowing that would be the case and would never dream of trying to complain about it! Common sense is clearly too much to ask.

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    borobearbabe

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Why buy a house near a stadium if you don't like the noise??!! They're not even there now because of a fire. What's the issue??!! Long live Mildenhall Stadium!!!

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    Fi, Stowmarket

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Just because noise has been created over a long period it should not mean it can continue for ever. I remember that the speedway at Foxhall created a lot of noise 50 or 60 years ago. Over recent years several thousand houses have been built much nearer the stadium than used to be the case and there are now many more events, both motor cycles and cars, and fireworks are frequently used. Is it reasonable that this should continue? I'm sure many more times the number of people with any interest in these "sports" are affected by the noise they generate. Shouldn't something be done to end the nuisence ?

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    amsterdam81

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • What a lot of sad people you speedway people are. The judge in the quoted case agreed that there was a noise nuisance in his judgement, not my opinion. The reality is that the Foxhall speedway will close eventually whatever I or anyone else thinks about it as it will be completely surrounded by housing within say 20 years and the present landowner won't be able to resist the wealth a sale will bring him, or her. Why not start looking for a new site now, out of town, and build proper facilities. The present stadium is nearly as old as me and has always remained an unsafe mess. Most motor sports have moved with the times while this stadium has stood still. Time to move on and make everyone happy. That I have lived within hearing distance of this "facility" most of my life doesn't make it acceptable. Recently the council complained about the noise from the Kesgrave music day. In those circumstances it's hard to know why they have turned a blind eye to the regular nuisance down the road.

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    amsterdam81

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Amsterdam81 is obviously not a Speedway fan. There are at least 25-30 Speedway meetings a year held between March and October, never in winter. The bikes have silencers and have had since 1977. New silencer regulations came around 3-4 years ago so the noise produced by a Speedway bike is a lot less than say 5 years ago. Mind you, there is no better sound than an unsilenced 2 valve JAP or Jawa Speedway bike!

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    Paul Wauly

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Oh my god this type of thing makrs my blood boil. They move near a stadium thrn complain!!!!. I want yo say more but cant without swearing. Good luck to the stadium i hope it survives this and carry on as normsl for years to come.

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    vinny.p

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • On the face of it a truly ludicrous decision that may put many people out of work. i hope the couple are happy with their £20k and are proud of their actions. Particularly given that they no longer live in the house. Wonder how long it will be before someone takes similar action against Foxhall Stadium?

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    paul e.

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Foxhall Stadium opened for Speedway in 1950. I'd guess the surrounding area was pretty much empty at this time. Since then, various estates have grown up around it. So why should anyone who moves in to this area now think they have a right to complain about the noise? And before you ask, I actually live within earshot of the Stadium and would never think of complaining, I knew it was there when i moved in.

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    paul e.

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Whether it's bike engines, church bells or music, few things make my blood boil more than people who move into an area then complain about a 'noise disruption' from something that's existed happily for decades before they chose to live there knowing this. How can a council EVER rule in favour of such idiots? Of course there'll be loud ringing on a Sunday if you move in beside a village church! Of course there'll be loud music if you move next to a gig venue! Of course there'll be motorbike noise if you move into an area with a speedway track! Buy a house somewhere else if you don't want to hear it! And that's before you even get to the punchline in this story about how the house in question isn't even there anymore because it BURNT DOWN FOUR YEARS AGO! Jesus... I moved in beside a football ground - so near I could watch the matches from my back window - and yes it's noisy with the tannoy, music, fans etc once a week but I chose to live hear knowing that would be the case and would never dream of trying to complain about it! Common sense is clearly too much to ask.

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    borobearbabe

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • amsterdam81. I am not a sad speedway person. I've never followed it, never been to a speedway event. But your attitude seems typical of attitudes today. We must be tolerant of everybody these days, so long as it's only things that I enjoy. If you spend a large amount of money on a house, you should do your research beforehand. If you do, then you should be fully aware that there is a noisy speedway track nearby. Or a football stadium. Or a pub. Or church bells that ring regularly and for long periods. Or a music venue that has regular concerts. Or busy road. If that is something that you would rather do without, then you don't move in and you find somewhere else to live more suitable to your needs to be sheltered from all other human life going about its business and pleasure. What you don't do is parachute into a community and then whine about the noises that come with it. And if you didn't do your research beforehand, then you get all you deserve.

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    Mike Rotch

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Go back to where you used to live! Why should this great stadium be restricted or have to close I have been going to that stadium as far back as I can remember. It's the best shale track around. Next thing you will want is the airbase to stop flying. IT'S ALWAYS THE PEOPLE WHO MOVE FROM THE TOWNS AND CITIES. I bet they go to watch the racing. HYPOCRITS

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    rescue125

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Whatever next? Will they take out proceedings against the USA for having an airbase nearby. These people seem content on spoiling other people's enjoyment. The stadium has been there 40 years or more.

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    Paul Wauly

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • No doubt they will take the money and move away anyway. I moved next to a busy main road - perhaps I can get traffic banned from it overnight and get some compensation too? What would happen if everybody was able to do this?

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    Mr Grumpy

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Surely they knew about the noise when they moved near a stadium that hosts speedway? Ridiculous.

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    Robotix

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

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