Charity commission questions on field

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Campaigners calling for the gates of a community playing field in Spalding to be permanently open to the public are sitting on the sidelines awaiting a decision by the Charity Commission.

The Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field has become the most sought after amenity in town.

Held in trust by South Holland District Council after being given to the people of Spalding by Sir Halley Stewart, time is ticking on a proposal by developers Corbo for a new shopping complex there.

The field has been used as the homeground for Spalding United Football, but the grounds are locked when not in use – and that is what Spalding Community Campaign (SCC) is objecting to.

Bill Johnson said: “We wrote to the Charity Commission because in our opinion the Trust Agreement of 1952 is presently not being complied with and the severely restricted access that we are made to endure is not what was intended when the Sir Halley Stewart Trust originally provided the finances to purchase the land and the legally-binding document was signed.”

Among the topics addressed by the Charity Commission in questions to the district council was the use of the playing field by Spalding United Football Club.

The council said the football club booked the playing field for its home fixtures through the council’s pitch booking service. Other parties had also booked the facility during 2012, including Spalding Athletic, Spalding Harriers, Pinchbeck United, Sunday League, Lincs School Football and private hirers.

Deputy leader Nick Worth said: “In our Big Society, any member of the community is welcome to hire the playing field or submit a proposal for its future.”

However, the SCC will not be putting forward a plan, in spite of Sport England funding being available.

Mr Johnson said: “The objective of the SCC is to prevent the sale of the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field and to ensure its future protection – our campaigners taking ownership is not a method for achieving this.”