PROTESTORS were full of smiles about an hour ago when members of South Somerset District Council decided to throw the planned £28-million Yeovil Sports Zone project into jeopardy.

Councillors voted narrowly against going ahead with a proposal to make an outline planning application for the exciting project to be sited at the Yeovil Recreation Centre.

It was gone midnight when council chairman, Cllr Ian Martin, announced that councillors had voted 31-25 against the centre, more commonly known as Mudford Rec, from being used as the location for the Sports Zone.

Council leader, Cllr Tim Carroll, and his senior colleagues, as well as officers, looked distraught at the bombshell.

Protestors, however, who had sat through more than five hours of emotional and heated debate about the project whooped with delight when the result was given.

The meeting was held at Westland Leisure Complex in Yeovil and several hundred people packed the main ballroom to listen to the lengthy discussions.

An original meeting, scheduled to have taken place last month at the council's Brympton Way offices, was abandoned on safety grounds because there were too many members of the public wanting to cram into the council chamber.

Although moved to the larger venue of Westland, there was still only enough room for residents to gather for the long-awaited debate.

Five hours later and the first vote was taken in which councillors voted 32-24 in favour of the overall idea of the Sports Zone project.

Moments later Cllrs Simon Bending, Mike Best, Geoff Clarke, Jenny Kenton, Michael Lewis and Derek Yeomans had 'jumped ship' and gone from supporting the first recommendation and objecting to the crucial second - namely the siting of the Sports Zone at the Yeovil Recreation Centre.

It was enough to see the protestors win the day and campaign spokesman Ashley Strelling was full of smiles and was seen shaking hands with fellow campaigners as they left the leisure complex.

But what now for the Sports Zone project? It means that council officers will have to go back to the drawing board and look at alternative sites.

The problem being was that the Yeovil Rec site had already been identified as the best location for the state-of-the-art sporting facilities.

More news on tonight's dramatic developments throughout the night.