PLAYING FIELDS TRUST STARTS WINDING UP

Horrabridge Recreation Field Trust, which has managed the Fillace Park sports fields and pavilion for about 15 years, last night (Tues Jan 16) formally started the process of handing control back to Horrabridge Parish Council.

The fields were bought for the village by local benefactors in 1926 and given to the parish council when it was formed in 1950.

The Recreation Field Trust was formed, by laborious legal process, between 2002 and 2004, to be a management body with charitable status, independent of the council, although the council retained the ownership of the land and was represented on the management committee.

The idea in the first place was to make it easier for the football club to get grant aid – mainly available from the Football Association at the time. But it proved legally impossible to give the club the long-term lease it wanted and the sources of grants changed and eventually the Trust decided its own existence was a hindrance rather than a help. Dartmoor planners foiled a last-gasp attempt to raise money by selling a lease for a mobile communications mast. And the meeting in the parish hall last night was supposed to wrap up the HRFT and hand all control back to the council.

But Trust chairman Andy Stewart said the Charity Commission had warned him that a resolution at a public meeting might not be good enough.

He was still trying to clarify what else the Charity Commission wanted and to track down all the documentation which might be required. Meanwhile he had also looked into a suggestion that the fields be reclassified as common land but that would raise a new set of difficulties.

The meeting – attended mainly by HRFT members and parish councillors – agreed go ahead as planned and sort out the details later.

Mr Stewart and the Horrabridge Times abstained but the other eight people attending the meeting voted for the following motion …

“This meeting agrees to a resolution that Horabridge Recreation Field Trust be wound up, with immediate effect, and the decision notified to the Charity Commission for England and Wales. All remaining cash and assets, after settling any outstanding liabilities, will transfer to Horrabridge Parish Council as freeholder of the land and property.”

The parish council has already indicated it is willing to take the responsibilities back but now has to decide on a management mechanism. The subject is likely to be discussed at the next council meeting, 7.30 pm on Tuesday Feb. 13.

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.