Thursday, 24 June 2021

Footballers refused pitch hire refund

Goring United logo

A REQUEST by Goring United Football Club for a partial refund of its ground hire fees has been rejected by the parish council.

The club, which usually plays at the Gardiner recreation ground, off Upper Red Cross Road, has had to move most of its home fixtures to Sheepcot recreation ground, off Gatehampton Road, this season.

The council, which owns both sites, is refurbishing the Gardiner pavilion so the club has played 16 of its 24 home games at Sheepcot instead.

The club claims it is entitled to a refund of the £1,162 it paid the council for the use of Gardiner because it had paid an additional £625 for the right to use Sheepcot as well.

It pointed out that on one occasion a match at Sheepcot had to be abandoned because the pitch was not in a suitable condition.

The council argued that the club’s fee for each site reflected the level of expected usage. It said the club had used Sheepcot more than usual but had not been charged extra.

The club’s first request for a refund was refused in December, so chairman Alex Fletcher appealed the decision at a council meeting on Monday.

He said parish clerk Colin Ratcliff and Councillor David Brooker had told him informally to expect reimbursement.

He said: “They both made clear that a pro-rata refund would be reasonable given the amount of games we cannot play at Gardiner due to the pavilion works.

“The fact that we can play at Sheepcot is frankly irrelevant as we paid a separate fee for the right to do so.”

But Councillor Bryan Urbick said: “It’s like a rail replacement bus — we have still offered the provision you paid for.

“I’m against a refund because we’re spending a lot of money on improving a facility that you and other sports clubs will benefit from.”

Councillor Catherine Hall said: “You must bear in mind that there is a maintenance cost to us for every game that is played.”

The refurbishment, which will cost at least £50,000, is expected to finish in April.

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