FOOTIE FIELDS MANAGERS GIVE UP – and other council news

The Horrabridge Recreation Field Trust has given up trying to run the Fillace Park grounds and will hand back responsibility to the parish council.

The decision, which was announced and accepted at the parish council’s meeting last night (Tues Nov 14), has implications for ratepayers and for the village football club. Currently, the football club gets use of the pitches and pavilion for a token rent in exchange for one of its supporters cutting the grass.

A change of management will mean a review of all arrangements. And if the council can get grants which the trust could not get, they might be conditional on a wider range of sports being played.

However, all sides are prepared to work together for a long-term solution. The trust has promised to hold on to give time for an “orderly” transition and to hold a final public meeting to give anyone a chance to come forward with ideas.

The trust has struggled for money and help for some time and the final straw was the failure of a plan to raise £20,000 by leasing a site for a mobile communications mast – turned down by the Dartmoor National Park Authority while the council stayed neutral.

Trust chairman Andy Stewart said at last night’s meeting: “For the last couple of years, we have been one unexpected expense away from being insolvent.”

He said in his letter to the council that the Trust had found itself in an awkward position legally – ineligible for some grants and locked out from others because it had no funds of its own to “match fund” with.

Also at last night’s meeting …

Council chairman Paul Beard said he would be talking to the police about a rampage by youngsters who intimidated a cubs’ meeting and threw stones into a yoga class in the village hall on Monday night.

He also introduced the Methodist Church’s new community worker for the village, Alison Mansfield, who will lead the redevelopment of the old chapel on Station Road, opposite the village hall, and the formation of a team of paid staff and volunteers to run it. She said the pews would be taken out and sold and the central space would become a play area for children aged up to 12. There would be a cafe and a meetings room and a weekly evening for teenagers, starting next spring, with free hot chocolate and doughnuts, to encourage them away from drinking and smoking and try to engage them in working for the village.

She added that the church hopes to get planning permission to move a gatepost to allow vehicle access and parking. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers will help to clear the grounds and paint the railings.

Mrs Mansfield, 39, who lives in Whitchurch, has been working as a supply teacher at Horrabridge School for four years.

She said she would like to hear from anyone with ideas for using the chapel. Her telephone number is 07855 794074 and her email address

Councillor Beard said fund-raising for new Christmas lights, down the village main street from Church Corner to Premier Stores, had raised enough to make the project possible – but a final decision is now dependent on Devon Highways inspecting the lamp posts to make sure they are strong enough to take the lighting strings. See previous story at

Cllr Beard said lighting under the bridge was still a long-term possibility but there were too many difficulties to do it this year.

In response to a request from the Horrabridge Times, Cllr Doreen Keane produced a list of the ideas which made the final shortlist for investment of £100,000 from the sale of land for new housing at Walkham Meadows. More on that on this site later. Meanwhile, Cllr Steve Roche objected to the Horrabridge Times report on last month’s decisions on the subject – which he saw when it was reprinted in The Bridge magazine. We said councillors had chosen to support their own project – £27,000 of new play equipment for Weir Park, including a wheelchair swing and enclosure costing £18,000 .

Cllr Roche wanted to make clear that the ideas for the playground had come from the public in the first place.

Another possibility left open in the investments discussion was to resurface the playing fields carpark by the pavilion. The council has been quoted £3,000 for a skim and £28,000 for a full resurfacing with tarmac. Cllr Beard wanted to go ahead with the second option but other councillors felt they should wait until the Recreation Fields Trust had formally handed the land back and all possible futures for it had been explored. There were also objections to tarmac as a solution. No decision was made.

From the public seats, Sharon Ellis of Walkham Meadows suggested that local builders should be invited to suggest ways of resurfacing the carpark (132 square metres) without creating more run-off problems. Cllr Beard said he would be happy to hear any ideas.

Cllr Roche said that after discussion about alterations to a house on North Road, off the A386 by the remains of the old railway bridge, the parish council had maintained its objection to retrospective planning permission, because of the number of deviations from the plan originally approved. But once again, Dartmoor NPA had over-ruled the parish.

The park authority will hold an open meeting in the parish hall on Tues Nov 28, from 7.30, to discuss its housing policy for Dartmoor and the areas of Horrabridge where it would be inclined to grant permission for new building. Cllr Roche said land above Youldon Way was one new possibility. Dostabrook Field, off the Whitchurch Road, where the owners have been floating ambitious plans for flood-proofed housing, looked like being ruled out. He would welcome a good public attendance at the meeting, especially from supporters of his wish for a “village plan” to weigh against the overall Dartmoor plan.

Report by Chris Benfield. Email – or comment through the box below.

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.

1 Comment

  1. Recreation Trust: Best to create a new trust under new management with a modest 5 to 10 year plan and apply to bodies such as Maristow Trust, DCH etc with the previously canvassed element of crowd funding. There is plenty of match-finding if people work together and look at the skills and talents among those who use the pitches, particularly parents. As I read it, the Mast idea was not forever refused; what was needed was a proposal that had the support and confidence of those who would be affected. RAMPAGE: I hope this is not another exaggeration that where a gentle conversation by those they are most likely to rest that appeals to the better nature and overall good behaviour of village youth is being mislabeled ? The Youth deserve a lot of credit and encouragement given the example of some of their elders, and how bad things are in other areas of the country. Hardly any graffiti, vandalism, rudeness, drunkenness or aggression – just the odd blip.

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