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Hundreds of Colchester United fans cheered as they were told: "You've got your stadium."

Marie Partner, chief executive of Colchester United, announced to the fans packed outside the town's Moot Hall that the Community Stadium project had cleared a major hurdle.

Last night Colchester Council voted to back the £14.23 million stadium project by taking out a £10.23 million loan.

It means that work on the 10,000-seat Community Stadium should start early next year at Cuckoo Farm, north of Colchester. It could be open by spring 2008.

After years of delays and wrangles, the Evening Gazette launched a campaign which kickstarted the Community Stadium.

We won praise for our Community Stadium Now! campaign, which worked with the Colchester Community Stadium Action Group, led by Rob Knight, to collect more than 30,000 signatures on a petition.

The council considered the business case for the project and agreed to borrow the money needed to build the stadium.

Robert Davidson, council leader, said: "I am absolutely delighted - it was a unanimous decision and a momentous day for Colchester.

"A lot of hard work has gone into making this a viable financial case for the residents of Colchester."

For work to go ahead, a number of issues need to be resolved, including waiving the original planning condition that work cannot start before there is a new junction on the A12. It is anticipated these issues will be cleared up within the next eight to 12 weeks.

* Buy today's Evening Gazette for full coverage of the stadium decision.