Residents in Lewes district have voted three-to-one against their council's bid to derail the Falmer stadium.

A poll by The Argus surveyed a random sample of 242 members of the public and found 74 per cent believed Lewes District Council was wrong to ask for a judicial review into the decision to allow a new community stadium at Falmer.

The survey raises serious questions about the credibility of the council's claim to represent the views of its voters on Falmer.

Paul Samrah, of the Falmer for All campaign, welcomed the survey.

He said: "It backs what we have been saying all along that the council is not supported by the electorate to take this action.

"Groups and organisations in the district who may have lost out in getting council funding in the past must be angry at the council squandering money in this way.

"This is a good sized sample and clearly shows what a large number of people are thinking."

The survey was not scientific but offered the first insight into the views of ordinary people on their council's treatment of the Falmer issue.

Lewes District Council has confirmed it is taking our findings seriously.

A spokeswoman told The Argus: "The council plans to release further information on Monday but we will take into account what you have told us about your poll response."

Our reporters called residents chosen at random from the telephone book and surveyed members of the public stopped in the street and in pubs and shops in Lewes, Peacehaven, Newhaven and Seaford.

We asked: "Are you for or against Lewes District Council's decision to seek a judicial review on the Deputy Prime Minister's decision to allow a new community stadium at Falmer?"

Some 179 people, 74 per cent, said they were against the decision, while 41, or 16.9 per cent, said they supported the council.

Twenty-two people, or 9.1 per cent, did not express a view either way.

Our reporters found mixed views among the people they surveyed on the streets of Lewes.

Lee Heaver, 29, an engineer from Heathfield, said: "It's a complete waste of money. The new stadium is a fantastic idea.

"It's going to happen and the council should accept it."

Mother Laura McDougall, 24, of Blois Road, Lewes, said: "The council is totally wrong.

"Football fans in Lewes support the Albion and are 100 per cent behind them. The council has had its say and now it should stop spending our money like this."

Student Stav Economou, 18, from Ringmer, said: "The stadium has to be built and it is the right site. I don't approve of what the council is doing. This challenge is pointless."

Retired Graham Trembett, 67, from Lewes, said: "The council should all be sacked. It is a complete waste of our money and I am angry about it.

"They may as well hold up a lighter and set fire to £25,000. There is no chance of winning yet they want us to finance it, even though they made the decision in secret without asking us what we think. In Brighton, they got a referendum."

His wife, Pamela said: "They are acting without our authority."

Fans reacted angrily after councillors met in secret to discuss the judicial review on November 24, refusing to let the public hear their discussion by barring The Argus from their meeting, before sending out a statement by email to announce their decision.

This is despite a legal appeal by The Argus which called on the council to hold the Cabinet meeting in public.

A judicial review on the 22,000-capacity stadium at Falmer could cost the council anything from £25,000 to hundreds of thousands if it loses and has to pay costs.

The council has already spent £207,000 in its fight against the stadium. Unemployed Peter Williams, 35, from East Hoathly, near Hailsham, said: "It is not the best site for a stadium. It has poor transport links.

"We have had a planning process and I do not think the council will win but they spend our money without asking us every day so this is no different really. They are a law unto themselves."

Vanessa Watkins-Bartlett, 37, of South Heighton, near Newhaven, said: "I would be quite upset if I lived in Falmer but it has got to go somewhere. It should probably be somewhere else, though. It's a tough call but I would say if there is another site then it should be explored and the council is doing its job."

Retired local government officer James Pepler, 64, of Lewes, said: "I'm not in favour of the stadium and I support the council. Falmer is the wrong place. Brighton and Hove Albion should not assume people in Lewes are behind them.

"If they spoke to us, they would realise many do not support this plan."

His wife Janet said: "It is not fair on the people of Falmer."

People in Meridian Shopping Centre, Peacehaven, also had strong opinions.

Security guard Lee Rogers, 22, of Bramber Avenue, Peacehaven, said: "The council is out of order. That club needs a stadium.

"Being from London, I'm a season ticket holder at Chelsea but Albion is my local club now and if they had a new stadium which was easy for me to get to, I would definitely go and watch them.

"They deserve our support. The council should not really be meddling in this and is wasting our money."

Retired Joseph Lister, of Cairo Avenue, Peacehaven, said: "I've supported Albion since 1935. Falmer is probably not the ideal site for a new stadium but a decision has been made after a long process and Lewes District Council should accept that."

His wife Gladys said: "John Prescott has made up his mind. The council has lost. It should accept that and stop spending our money like this. We don't want them to."

Respondents to our telephone calls made similar points.

Barbara Anderson, of Southdown Road, Seaford, said: "We waited long enough for Prescott to make up his mind and now it's being dragged out even longer. What the council is doing is a disgusting waste of money."

James Anthony, of Mountfield Road, Lewes, said: "The council is a joke. It is about time they stopped this ridiculous course of action. I most certainly do not support them."

Alice Andrews, of Heathfield Road, Seaford, said: "The sooner the stadium is built the better. The council seems determined to ruin the club and it is all rather petty."

But Marion Archer, from Ringmer, supported the council. She said: "I feel sorry for the people of Falmer. There has got to be a better site. £25,000 is not a huge amount of money and I think the council is justified."

Pete Adams, of Iveagh Crescent, Newhaven, agreed. He said: "Someone has to stand up for the countryside or we will lose it all."

George Allen, of The Fairway, Newhaven, said: "I am sick and tired of Lewes District Council sticking its nose in Brighton's business.

"There are more pressing matters, like the incinerator threatening to ruin this town. There has been due process and the stadium must be built."

All but four of the 61 people we questioned in Newhaven criticised the council's approach.

Den Hoskins, of High Street, Newhaven, said: "How can the council spend our money fighting something we want? We want the stadium."

Alan Saunders, of Second Avenue, has lived in the area 45 years. He said: "They shouldn't be appealing against the decision or using our money to do it. It has been passed and this has been going on too long."

Lionel Harwood, manager of Windows Direct in the High Street, said: "The councillors ought to be ashamed of themselves.

"There's something going on behind the scenes here, otherwise why would they try to stop it and make their decisions in private?"

Similar sentiments were voiced in Seaford, where out of 58 people asked only five agreed with the council's stance.

Lynne Kealy, of Eastbourne Road, said: "The council are absolutely rubbish and they are wasting people's money on a decision that's outside their area. It actually shouldn't affect them.

"I understand how the people of Falmer feel but it would bring a lot to the area, too. I think what they are worried about is the fans but they won't even be playing one game a week."

However, Vic Dowdey, of Princess Drive, disagreed. He said: "I'm totally for their appeal. I don't agree that the stadium should be built there and that government ministers should get involved in the local democratic process, especially when it is due to be built on a site of natural beauty like the South Downs."

Margaret Morris, 72, of Bishops Close, Seaford, said: "I'm a football fan although I'm elderly and the youngsters have got to have something. I don't think they should appeal as it's going to cost us taxpayers money."

Brian Geering, 66, of Valence Road, Lewes, said: "In the first place I was against it (the stadium) but the decision has been made and I think they should stick by it."

Peter Howard, 58, of Newhaven Road, Lewes, has written to Lewes District Council and MP Norman Baker objecting to the council's plan to spend money on legal action.

He said: "I think Falmer is the ideal place. It already has the university there. We've had the best people looking at it and we've had a ministerial decision.

"We don't have a stadium on the South Coast and we have some total lunatics in Lewes District Council having meetings in secret and spending a whole lot of our money."

Mr Howard has two grandchildren who play for the Albion juniors. Norman Hance, 76, of Lewes, supports the council's decision.

He said: "I think the council are right to do this. The only reason the Government gave permission was to save their own asses. Brighton has bigger problems than a football stadium to be dealing with."

Elsie Darling, 84, of St Thomas Court, Lewes, said: "I don't want the stadium there, I think it should be built in Brighton. Keep it over there.

They would be better off building something useful like a hospital in that space."

Ann Harrington, 79, of Rufus Close, Lewes, said: "I do not agree with the council. I think they are spending taxpayers' money on this. I am happy for them to just get on and build the stadium."

Robert Hardy, of Buckthorn Close, Seaford, said: "I don't think the council should go ahead to judicial review.

"It has gone too far now. I understand the concerns of the people of Falmer but I really don't think they are going to achieve anything.

"After all it will be taxpayers' money that will be used to fund the judicial review and I don't think that's right."

John Jackson, of Court Farm Road, Newhaven, said: "So many people are in favour of the stadium that I think the decision to allow it to be built should stand."