Task group to look at opening gates to public

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News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
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A new task group is to look at ways a Spalding playing field could be used for “general recreation”.

South Holland District Council members, who are the trustees of Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, met to discuss the facility’s future at a special meeting on Wednesday.

Part of the meeting was to have been held behind closed doors but as no members of the public attended, in spite of a last-ditch plea by Spalding Community Campaign for residents to press for public access, discussions were held openly.

The main aim of the meeting was to agree changes to the wording of the booking form.

The trustees had been advised by their legal team to make it clearer that “individuals” could hire the facility.

A “robust letter” will now be winging its way to the Charity Commission from the trustees’ counsel informing them of their decision.

The Charity Commission became involved in the long-running dispute over use of the sports 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.”

However, there could still be greater access.

Coun Nick Worth, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for Localism and Big Society, said: “Trustees have agreed to set up a task group to look at options for the field and explore whether changes could be made to include general recreation.

“They will also have to look at what the cost implications of this would be on the Spalding taxpayer.”

Task group members could call on members of the public, such as Mr Johnson, for their opinion.

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