End in sight to row over town playing field?

Sir Halley Stewart Filed, Spalding.
Sir Halley Stewart Filed, Spalding.

A “robust letter” will be winging its way to the Charity Commission following a legal report that could end the dispute over Spalding’s Sir Halley Stewart playing field.

The trustees at South Holland District Council (SHDC) have been advised by their legal team to revisit the booking form so it is made clear that “individuals” can hire the facility.

This could mean that the field could be opened for a resident to go jogging for an hour and then it would be locked up again.

Although he had not had a chance to look at it in depth, Coun Nick Worth reported to the SHDC full council meeting on Wednesday that he had received the report.

However, he said making access for individuals clearer did not mean the playing field would be opened up to the public for general access.

He said: “For security reasons this will not happen and that was acknowledged in the report.

“The next step will be to write to the Charity Commission and tell them in a robust letter what we are doing.

“And that will be the end of it.”

The Charity Commission became involved in the long-running dispute over use of the field, home to Spalding United, after being contacted by Bill Johnson of the Spalding Community Campaign.

Campaigners claim the field was left to the whole community and the gates should not be locked to keep the public out.

In September, the campaigners were furious about council plans to open the King’s Road gates to allow public access to a small area of land – currently used as the football training pitch – for the public to use for informal recreation.

Mr Johnson said: “They were just offering us part of it. It would also give one organisation (the football club) the chance to take over the Sir Halley Stewart Field, which would be against the Charity Commission guidelines because they say that no one organisation should dominate the field.”

Following the latest development, Mr Johnson said: “We will have to await the decision of the Charity Commission.”