PLAYING FIELD: Forced to finance the deficit

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Following my letter to this paper in November last year, stating that South Holland District Council had exceeded its authority over the playing field, subsequent letters from deputy council leader Nick Worth and football pundit Ray Tucker criticised me at length, following which, I decided to approach this issue from a totally different angle.

This took the form of in-depth research of the council’s own website, which has yielded some disturbing results, especially for Spalding’s council taxpayers.

Having concentrated my searches on the annual statements of accounts, I can confidently state that the following financial figures are collated from those accounts.

Fact 1: In the five financial years 2008/9 to 2012/13 the council’s total expenditure on the Halley Stewart Field was £190,000.

Fact 2: In the same five year period, total income was a mere £34,000.

Fact 3: Again in the same period total deficit (loss) was £156,000.

Fact 4: Spalding’s tax paying residents were forced to make good the annual deficits (averaging £31,200 per annum) via the Spalding expenses budget.

Of the five financial years shown above, the most notable was 2008/9 when expenditure was £61,000, income was £16,000 and deficit (loss) was £45,000.

It should be noted that each year’s entry of the Halley Stewart figures was minute and consisted of two lines showing lump sums for expenditure, income and deficit (loss).

On November 18, I delivered a Freedom of Information request, asking for detailed breakdowns of the Halley Stewart’s published figures for the financial years 2011/12 and 2012/13 respectively. After a number of attempts, I finally got the results in a format I could easily understand two weeks ago.

Using the financial year 2011/12 as a specimen example, listed below are the major items of expenditure:

Utilities: electricity £2,600, gas £2,634, water and sewage £3,400, Compass Point Business Services £3,673 and grounds maintenance £11,110.

Income: under the heading ‘income from football’, £2,554.

This gives the lie to Mr Tucker’s reply to my original letter stating that Spalding United pay ‘a considerable sum for use of the playing field’.

He should take note that the above figure was not sufficient to settle even the lowest of the utilities bills.

To summarise, how can it be deemed by the council to be democratic that Spalding’s residents are forced to finance the annual playing field deficit whilst at the same time being ‘locked out’ from same?

Furthermore, Spalding United FC (a commercial limited company) who, according to Mr Tucker, are enjoying 90 per cent increases in spectators, must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Gerry Hutchinson