A PROTEST rally was held today calling upon the owners of the Stow to sell the track so greyhound racing can return.

Organised by Save Our Stow (SOS) campaigners, about 100 people with placards and racing dogs gathered outside the stadium in Chingford Road, Chingford, from 12noon and encouraged passing drivers to sound their horns in support.

The iconic building, part of which is listed, has remained empty since housing association London and Quadrant took it over last August.

SOS campaigner Rick Holloway announced during a speech that the prospective owner who has made an offer to L&Q which has been turned down, is businessman Nick Budimir.

Mr Holloway said: “Winston Churchill came here. What would he think of it now?

"Taxi drivers, suppliers, caterers, trainers, kennel hands and local businesses lost a living when it closed.

“It is an utter diabolical disgrace how a registered charity can hold this borough to ransom.

"How long does it take politicians and councillors to realise in this borough that this is what is needed.”

Mr Holloway criticised L&Qs plans for a multi-storey housing development and called on it to meet with the prospective buyer, with Neil Gerrard MP acting as mediator, to see whether a deal could be reached.

He warned: “We are stronger than ever and more determined than ever. Now sell this land.”

Greyhound trainer and SOS campaigner Linda Jones said that for greyhound racing, the Stow was considered the best.

Neil Gerrard MP, who has bee pressing L&Q to meet with the prospective buyer said: “There is no sign of building work and I don't think there is any possibility to build there at the moment. If we don't get a deal, it will sit here for years and years.” Deputy council leader John Macklin also pledged his support to the campaign.

Greyhound trainer Michael Rack, 40, said he and his partner had been going to the track for 30 years before it closed.

The father-of-two said: “We enjoyed racing the greyhounds and it was a good family night out. It is a waste. It has been empty one year and will be empty for more.”

Tony Taylor, 27, and electrician who used to race his dog Droopys Slopar at the track said: “I think the council should intervene because it is a leisure facility and something to benefit the community.”

Carol Ellis, 48, of Borwick Avenue in Walthamstow, said she used to go to the track three or four times a week before it closed and now travels to the track in Romford.

She said: “I was really sad to see it shut and now they don't seem to be doing anything with it. I used to go there on my own and it was something to do.”