LETTER: Clarifying matters over parish meetings and the future of Sidlesham Football Club

YOU have recently reported very fairly on Sidlesham Parish Council and parish meetings that have taken place about the future of Sidlesham Football Club and its clubhouse.

It appeared from remarks made by parishioners at the annual parish meeting that some do not fully understand the situation and I should be grateful if you would allow me, on behalf of the club, space to correct some false impressions.

I feel sure they arose from a circular from the Sidlesham Community Association distributed before the extraordinary parish meeting which you reported.

The circular contained three basic misunderstandings which clearly had inspired the calling of that meeting.

The circular said the parish council intended to grant a long lease at a ‘peppercorn’ rent.

Understandably many parishioners were opposed to this, but it was not true.

There was to be an agreement for a lease but that was conditional upon (a) the club getting a planning consent to refurbish the clubhouse they built and have occupied for about 40 years and (b) on the club obtaining funding for the work of about £100,000 and (c) on the council approving the plans.

At the end of a 25-year term the building would belong to the parish without costing it a penny. So in effect the parish would have received a rent equivalent to £4,000 a year. In addition the club agreed to maintain the whole ground which private contractors would charge substantially for.

The circular suggested the club would be taking over the whole ground for its own use. That was not true. The club has a legal contract to occupy the building and part of the ground but it intended to reduce that area.

The circular said the lease to the club would restrict the use of the rest of the ground by the parish. That was not true.

There is plenty of room on the ground for a community hall if that is wanted by the parish; at a meeting between the chairman of the SCA and the club, at which I was present, it was made plain to him that the club was, and still is, willing to co-operate with the SCA in carrying out such plans as long as the club’s own legal rights were recognised.

To date the SCA has produced no such plans.

It is unfortunate that these misunderstandings seem to have become fixed in parishioners’ minds.

I’m sure the committee of the SCA and those who called the extraordinary meeting are all honourable ladies and gentlemen who would not have deliberately tried to obtain their aims by misleading the public deliberately, so I conclude that they themselves did not fully comprehend either

the existing rights of the club or the council’s intention.

I hope they and all parishioners will consider this letter carefully so that in future any deliberations can be conducted in full understanding of the facts and the issues.

If so we can all move forward amicably.

Tony Rowland

Hon. Sec. Sidlesham Football Club