Thursday, 17 August 2017

Sports clubs given a say on fees for using village green

SPORTS clubs could still be charged for using Whitchurch village green.

SPORTS clubs could still be charged for using Whitchurch village green.

The parish council has set up a working group to discuss whether to introduce fees for the village’s cricket and football clubs, which play matches there.

The clubs will have representatives on the group along with councillors.

Whitchurch Primary School will also be represented, even though the council has said it won’t charge it for use during school hours.

The land used to be owned by the Whitelock family, who gifted it to the village in 2012.



The council refurbished the site and added a car park, junior football pitch and new trees and benches, which were partly funded by South Oxfordshire District Council and private sponsors.

In the spring it warned the clubs it was going to charge each of them about £400 a year to pay for the upkeep of the green.

It said this was in line with other councils’ policies and argued it would be unfair to raise the money through council tax as some of the club’s players do not live in the village.

Cricket club members and several other residents protested, saying there was no mention of charging in the agreement that was made when the land was transferred from the Whitelocks. The strength of feeling in the protests is thought to have led to the resignations of Councillor Vincent Aldridge and then his colleague Pearl Slatter, who had been co-opted on to the council to replace him.

Councillor Laura Lucas and former chairman Harry Butterworth also quit.

Councillor Jim Donahue, who is now vice-chairman, said: “We decided to form a working group in order to have some consultation with the main users of the green before making any decisions.

“The green is meant to be for the whole community and we want to have better communication.

“I spoke to a lot of objectors and none was in favour of the school being charged so we made a decision not to charge it. It’s a complicated matter so it made sense to take it off the table from the moment the new parish council was formed. Everyone we know seems to be against the idea.

“The group hasn’t had its first meeting yet so we’re not working to any timeframe. It won’t have the final say but will make a recommendation for the full council and we’re hoping it will reach a consensus.”

• Eleven candidates have come forward for the three vacant parish council seats. The applicants will be interviewed and three co-opted. Cllr Donahue said: “It’s great that so many people want to contribute to the life of the village. I think we should be helping those who don’t get a seat to find other ways of getting involved.”



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