First of all we would like to thank all RFOTR members who responded to the Charity Commission on the Draft Scheme for the Rec. Almost 1000 RFOTR members told us that they responded, and we believe that this represents a high percentage of all responses to the Charity Commission. We are eagerly awaiting the final decision of the Charity Commission!
In the meantime a dubious delaying tactic from those opposed to development on the Rec has emerged. An application has been submitted to have the Rec designated as a ‘Town or Village Green’. There is a report about this on the Bath Chronicle website. Councillor David Dixon (Chairman of the Bath Recreation Ground Trust) is quoted as saying “This is merely a stalling tactic, an application which in my view fails on many accounts as a town village green, not least there is a leisure centre in existence and people, are not free to access the land, as all sports and activities are to be booked and paid for through the Trust.
“Mr Sparrow and his colleagues simply do not want the Trust to resolve the outstanding issues, do not want more land brought under the Trust's management in order for it to meet its objectives of making space available for sports, recreation and events.
“How much longer they want the issues the Trust face to go unresolved, who knows? This is now in its 11th year and this is the year to resolve issues one way or another."
Our understanding is that this application fails the criteria of “the land having been used and continuing to be used as of right by the inhabitants of the City of Bath for at least 20 years for lawful sports and pastimes” for multiple reasons including:
All sporting activities on the Rec (formal or informal) need the permission of the Rec Trust and have to be booked through the Trust
The Leisure Centre (which is included in the application) clearly does not have free access and is not open at all times.
The tennis courts and other facilities on the Rec do not have open access for ‘sports and pastimes’
On rugby match days there is not free access to the pitch and stands for ‘sports and pastimes’.
In the unlikely event that the application to make the Rec a ‘Town/Village Green’ becomes successful, this would have a number of consequences. One of these would make all the current activities on the Rec, including the Leisure Centre, unlawful with major negative impacts on the citizens of Bath. In addition the Rec Trust and B&NES could be left with a large financial liability which would end up with the council taxpayers of B&NES.
The RFOTR Committee is still examining the application in detail and if any RFOTR members do have legal expertise in the area of Town/Village Green applications please do contact us.
You can contact the Executive Committee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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