Concerns raised over possible transfer of recreation ground in Dursley

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , senior reporter covering Dursley, Cam, Wotton-under-Edge, Sharpness, Slimbridge, Berkeley, Coaley, Uley, North Nibley, Stinchcombe and Cambridge

CONCERNS have been raised about transferring a Dursley recreation ground to a trust to help safeguard its future use.

At their last meeting, Dursley Town Council could not agree on whether to accept the draft Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge deed of dedication for the War Memorial Recreation ground.

This would place a covenant on the field on Kingshill Road, keeping it as a recreational ground permanently as well as adding "a Queen Elizabeth II Field" to the ground's existing name.

The Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge aims to safeguard hundreds of outdoor recreational spaces for future generations in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee.

However a concern to some councillors has been the transfer of beneficial interest to Fields in Trust (FIT), the body governing the scheme.

If the deed is agreed, FIT would have a custodial and advisory role and would need consulting if the field’s use were to be changed, including if leases, transfers or sales were being considered.

FIT would also need to be consulted about any building works planned for the site, including play areas or teen shelters, though if buildings were to enhance the field's use then FIT say there would be no objection from them.

If the field were to be sold, or its use changed, the council would be committed to finding a replacement site of equal size, better quality and still serve the same catchment area according to the deed.

All proceeds from a disposal would also be expected to go to new sport, recreation or play facilities.

Cllr Tim Frankau, speaking at the full council meeting on Tuesday, December 4, was not convinced by the move.

"There’s no way it’s a good idea, it’s already safe as houses," he said.

"We should keep it for simplicity and to maintain control over it. I really do not see anything at all in this recommendation."

But Cllr Fiona Firth thought it would be a good idea to protect the site for the future and Cllr Loraine Patrick was in agreement.

"What we have to do now is protect the rec from future councils or whoever, who could do what they want with it," said Cllr Patrick.

The 12-acre site, known locally as the rec, is the main sports and recreation ground in the town and includes two full-sized football pitches used by Dursley Town FC and Dursley Ladies FC.

It was not clear at the meeting what alternative legislation could be used to protect the fields.

The item was referred to the next green spaces committee meeting on Tuesday, December 18, for more consideration and information.

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