MORE than one hundred residents spent their evening arguing over a plan to lease land to a football club - only to be told the council could not do it anyway.
Six residents called a public meeting of the electorate of Sidlesham on Wednesday evening in order to get a public vote on whether the parish council should sign an agreement to lease Sidlesham Football Club the Sidlesham Memorial Playing Field for 25 years, for a ‘peppercorn rent’.
Councillor Corina Hall told residents: “The Solicitors engaged by the Parish Council have cost us, the parishioners, quite a lot of money, but their advice is not being adhered to.
“A majority of councillors present at the last Parish Council meeting wanted to sign a lease. Councillor Pound and Councillor Hall referred to several comments made by the solicitor in his letter of May 13 in which the Solicitor suggested they take further advice. Following lengthy discussion, the parish council reluctantly agreed to consult their solicitor further on the matter.
“The solicitor said that except with the consent of the Secretary of State a council may not dispose of land other than by way of a short tenancy where the consideration for the disposal is less than the best that can be reasonably obtained.”
Residents passionately discussed their thoughts about the club and its plans to refurbish the club house. They argued that they would rather a village hall be created which could cater for the whole community.
Some said they did not trust if the club would keep the land and building maintained.
Resident David Dean said: “My wife and I came from Fontwell. We were surrounded by villages with fantastic village halls and facilities and the present football club needs bulldozing.
“I would like to see a proposal for a building on the site which provides more than just football.”
Samantha Scott added: “I would like something in the village for the whole village. Hunston has something for everybody not just one section of the community.”
A club representative told residents the club keeps the rounds maintained, which saves the council up to £3,000 a year.
They spent nearly an hour and a half in discussion before councillor Vanessa Fenton was invited up to provide the council’s position.
She read from a piece of paper: “I have been informed, in the last 24 hours, that the signing of the lease currently could be unlawful and the council has been advised to seek the advise of counsel.”
This announcement was met with stunned silence, followed by laughter.
Some residents called out: “So this has been a waste of time?”
Despite the shock announcement, residents still undertook a recorded vote which confirmed they did not want the council to lease the land.