Sunday January 24 2021



In Full . . .


Posted on August 24 2011 at 3:19:13

It must sometimes seem this column is devoted to criticism of Bromsgrove District Council, from fears that it will allow developers to eat into our green belt to a woeful lack of response to residents’ warnings of overtipping in the Lickey Hills.

Yet this is a council in a far better state than it was six years ago. It could even be argued that much of the recent criticism stems from problems created by the old, failing authority.

Which is why the strange case of the disappearing £70,000 allocated to improve playing fields in Alvechurch parish is so worrying. This initiative was the work of the current Bromsgrove leadership and officers – yet something has still gone badly wrong.

It had all sounded so good. The Village reported last autumn that Bromsgrove had approached Alvechurch Parish Council to see if it was interested in a project to improve the football pitches and car parking at Hopwood Community Centre as well as the often-waterlogged pitch at The Meadows.

The parish, which had been trying for a long time to find money to drain The Meadows, was delighted to enter discussions with the district, and all was going well until a contract was drawn up including what was effectively a Catch 22 for the parish.

The main user of the pitches was to be Alvechurch Lions FC: no problem. But, for reasons no one has yet been able to explain, the Lions were to have achieved and maintained “Community Club” status within two years or the parish would have to repay £47,000 of the £70,000 to the district council.

It was no surprise the parish felt it couldn’t risk an amount equivalent to its entire financial reserves on the future status of a club that was out of its control.  The Lions themselves said they couldn’t guarantee they would achieve the required status.

Adding to the problem was the fact that the Lions were having to leave their current pitches and if the Hopwood site was unavailable because it was being improved, there would be even less chance of the club maintaining sufficient teams to meet Community Club requirements.

The parish communicated this to the district, asking whether these matters could be considered further. We know that the council officers were aware of the situation because The Village rang them and explained what the sticking point was.

Yet the district council just took its ball home and withdrew the money. Just like that.

Let’s hope the old Bromsgrove District Council isn’t making a comeback.

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