Supporters' groups urge 'patience' from Hatters' fans amid boycott talks over Judicial Review

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Luton Town Football Club’s two main supporters’ groups have called for “patience” after last week’s announcement that a Judicial Review (JR) had been lodged against the Hatters’ plans for Newlands Park.

2020 Developments’ scheme for Newlands Park is widely viewed as essential to finance the new Luton Town football stadium at Power Court.

Since news of the JR broke last Thursday, fans have been vocal in their criticism of Mall owner, Capital & Regional (C&R), whose subsidiary company, Mall Nominee Three Ltd, formally lodged the JR with the High Court.

Some fans have even called for a boycott of the Mall.

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The Mall LutonThe Mall Luton
The Mall Luton | jpimedia

But the Luton News understands there are no firm plans for a boycott or demonstration at the moment. Although supporters’ groups are reluctant to pursue a boycott, it has not been completely ruled out.

Loyal Luton chairman Mark Bradbury told the Luton News: “Shop workers at The Arndale [The Mall] have a hard enough time as it is thanks to the lack of investment from C&R.

“Many of these workers are relatives of our members and many are also Luton Town fans themselves.

“Our focus is on bringing forward the benefits of Newlands Park to these people and to the rest of Luton.”

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It is understood Loyal Luton is working closely behind the scenes with fellow supporters’ group, Luton Town Supporters’ Trust (LTST), as well as Save Our Town to present a united front.

In a statement issued yesterday (Monday), Luton Town Supporters’ Trust chairman Tony Murray said: “The amount of requests to provide help we have received has been astonishing and welcomed.

“We understand Luton fans and Lutonians as one would like to take action against C&R... but at this time we ask for some patience.

“This is a legal process and it would be extremely counterproductive were anything to happen to jeopardise it.

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“Along with Loyal Luton and the Save Our Town group, we are working hard behind the scenes to work out our next step, a move we will inform everyone of via our social media feeds and website.

“We recognise this is extremely frustrating, we feel the same, however rest assured we will not give up this fight.

“We will provide a further update in due course.”

The supporters’ groups had previously called on C&R to attend a public meeting to discuss their opposition to Newlands Park.

Last week, they accused C&R for “declaring war on the people of Luton” after news of the JR was confirmed.

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The Hatters were given the green light by the council back in March for the development. However, long-term opponent C&R carried out its threat of a JR within the deadline.

Luton Borough Council stated it was “concerned about the potential cost to Luton taxpayers and the inevitable delays in this beneficial development coming forward”.

The authority added: “It is right that we vigorously defend the decision and we intend to do so.”

Luton Town also released a statement expressing their “extreme disappointment” with Mall owners Capital & Regional over the Judicial Review application.

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The club said: “The claim by Capital & Regional does not come as a surprise given their track record of opposing our plans and, we believe, their claims have no merit whatsoever.

“Indeed, it has always been our view that Capital & Regional have opposed and continue to oppose our plans on commercial factors rather than factors of public interest.

“Naturally, their decision to make such a claim will lead to delays to the regeneration of Luton and will not only incur significant costs to our own business affecting our operational expenditure, but also to Luton Council, which will be funded by the local taxpayer.

“This action also goes against the interests of the community, of which over 10,000 supported our applications in writing at the committee meeting earlier this year, after which the approval was not called in by The Secretary of State.

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“2020 Developments will now support the council in their vigorous defence of the challenge.”

C&R has declined to comment to the Luton News since the Judicial Review was lodged.

But in a previous statement where the firm called on the council to review its Newlands decision, it said: “Our legal advice is that the way this consent was delivered was legally flawed. We are entitled to exercise our legal right to challenge this.

“There are plenty of ways to fund the new stadium without building an inevitable rival to the already struggling town centre.”

The case will now be reviewed by a judge over the next few weeks to decide whether or not it will receive a hearing.