U's hope travel issues can be ironed out

COLCHESTER United's new stadium is set to host its first competitive game today - with local residents hoping problems experienced after a recent friendly can be ironed out.

Elliot Furniss

COLCHESTER United's new stadium is set to host its first competitive game today - with local residents hoping problems experienced after a recent friendly can be ironed out.

Some fans left their cars in no-parking zones before the warm-up game against Athletic Bilbao earlier this month - the first ever game at the new Weston Homes Community Stadium - and approach roads become clogged at certain points.

But, after several productive meetings this week, it is hoped today's game with Huddersfield Town will cause a minimum of trouble for both local people and those trying to get to the stadium for kick-off.


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U's media manager Matt Hudson said: “We just want to make sure we get everything right. Our main priority is to get everyone in and out safely.”

He said the club was “really pleased” with how the warm-up game had gone and the meetings with the stadium travel group, including a number of local town and parish councillors, had provided some very helpful suggestions.

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He added: “We know that it didn't quite work for the Bilbao game but that was one of the reasons we had that match. Since then there's been two or three meetings to work out how best to correct things.”

Robert Johnstone, chairman of Myland Parish Council, said the fans, the club and local residents were all on a learning curve and it would take a few matches for things to settle down, but he remained confident the travel preparations were thorough.

“Don't forget, Layer Road had no parking at all,” he said. “We had a meeting of the travel group on Tuesday. There were a few things not in place for the friendly that will be in place for the Huddersfield game.

“One thing that did really work was the shuttle bus, but this is the first real test.”

The free shuttle bus to the stadium will run on match days from Bruff Close near Colchester North Station.

Another measure to ease congestion is the sale of many of the 667 parking spaces at the ground to season ticket holders, who have been encouraged to share lifts to the ground.

Buses are also running from Braintree, Chelmsford and Clacton for fans from outside the town and there is a match day rover system on offer for people in Colchester to help them get to the shuttle bus station for just £1.

There will also be 40 marshals stationed outside the ground to help keep people and cars moving in the right direction and prevent people from parking illegally and causing hold-ups or misery for residents.

nAll season ticket holders should have received their passes in the post yesterday but anyone yet to receive theirs can contact the club before midday and a temporary ticket will be issued.

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