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Playing field saga is over

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter

The long-running dispute over The Sir Halley Stewart playing field in Spalding is over.

It has been confirmed South Holland District Council decisions about how it runs the community grounds have been taken properly and are in keeping with Charity Commission guidance.

Closing the case, the regulator for charities said it is satisfied the council understood its duties as a trustee.

The news follows a lengthy process after the trustees were challenged over its operation of what has become the home to Spalding United Football Club in Winfrey Avenue, Spalding.

A dispute came to a head in 2012 when Corbo, then-owners of Holland Market, revealed plans to build on the field.

Community campaigner Adam McVeigh started the Fields, Not Tarmac campaign and, along with like-minded friends, including Bill Johnson, has continued to argue the field was left to the town by Sir Halley Stewart in 1952 for “general recreation”.

Coun Nick Worth, deputy leader of South Holland District Council and portfolio holder with responsibility for operational aspects of the field, said: “We welcome the Charity Commission’s view that the Sir Halley is being run properly by the trustee.

“This matter has been going on for a long time and I’m pleased that the trustee is now able to draw a line under it and continue running the field in a fair and open manner.”

During the review carried out by the Charity Commission, the trustee proposed some changes to the future operation of the charity, including the formation of a working group to consider ongoing public use in light of Charity Commission guidance and a revised, clearer booking form showing the facilities were available for anyone, including all clubs that wish to use them.

The commission’s Alex Young told the council’s legal representative: “In the light of the conclusion (based on the evidence submitted) that the trustee is operating within the framework of our published advice we have decided that our case can now be closed.”

Chris Toynton, co-chairman of Spalding United, said the club was delighted with the news. He said: “We’ve seen all the arguments about opening the field up to the public but we just want to play football.

“Football has been played here for more than 90 years and we would have been pretty sick if we were asked to leave.We regard it as our home.”

Mr Johnson said: “We have still not seen evidence of exactly what has been agreed to. When we have we will be able to comment.”

Further details on booking the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field can be found online at www.sholland.gov.uk/leisure

 

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