War has broken out in Adderbury over the future of a field, gifted to the village for community and recreation use.
While the parish council is set on moving the Adderbury Football Club to new pitches on the Milton Road field and building a community centre, a group of villagers has triggered an official ‘parish poll’ on May 11 as a referendum on the issue.
The acres in question lie between Ball Colegrave and a new housing estate.
The field has a restrictive covenant on it – the wording of which is disputed.
Opponents of the parish council scheme say the original wording did not stipulate football pitches.
They believe facilities in the centre of the village – at the Lucy Plackett field – should be renovated and the sports facilities remain at the centre of the community.
The parish council believes its plan provides a rare opportunity for new facilities for the football club and other sports groups that might wish to be involved and for the community.
Stephen Betts, spokesman for the plan’s opponents said: “Adderbury Parish Council (APC) are hell bent on developing the site even though past consultations have shown that the majority of residents are against it.
“The general view is that adequate facilities exist and are all that is required within the parish for the purposes of football.
“Further, most of the members of the football club do not reside in the parish of Adderbury.”
Mr Betts described a poll that was run in the village magazine as not making it easy for people to respond.
The parish council says the sports facilities would not be restricted to football and a working party will also look at necessary improvements at the Lucy Plackett facility.
Eventually there will be a ‘full and transparent consultation’ on how the project moves forward, it says on the village website.
Diane Bratt, chairman of Adderbury Parish Council said: “The covenant stipulates sports pitches and a community facility and we will be able to include other sports clubs if they come forward.
“The parish council has no intention of putting in football pitches and excluding other sports.
“We’ve already got ten to 12 village groups who are keen to use the facilities. The football club wants to use it but is happy for others to use it.
“The idea of a parish poll is a fallacious one. It will achieve nothing. It has no legal status at all.
“The parish council says it wants sports pitches and a hall and is progressing with that.
“Any use the parish council wishes to make will need planning permission and it will need to comply with the restrictions of the covenant,” she said.
“Floodlighting, the size of the building and its uses, such as the bar, would have to pass planning and the hours of use would be regulated.”
Mrs Bratt said the building would be equipped with modern facilities such as sound-proofing.
Some people in the village have questioned how the maintenance and staffing of the facility would be funded in addition to the building costs. It is believed the community hall would need to earn revenue from events, functions and dances.
Opponents, including some who live in the west of the village, believe those living in Twyford would no longer walk to the sports facility. And as well as the 90 homes being built in their area, on the north and south of Milton Road, would have the added traffic of the new facility.
However Mrs Bratt said the residents of those new homes would want to use the new recreation development.
Some residents fear a new access way to the club, which will have a large parking area, might lead to pressure to build more homes behind the field.
Suggestions for other uses have included a flower meadow, trees and even a burial ground.
The parish poll has been arranged according to an old convention by which ten registered electors may request such a poll.
It is understood approximately 20 opponents of the parish council’s scheme signed such a request.
Jemma Callow of Cherwell District Council said: “At the Adderbury Annual Parish Meeting ten electors requested a parish poll on the question they proposed.
“When this occurs the chairman of the parish meeting has to notify the district council who will conduct the poll according to legislation.
“The legislation for parish polls is quite antiquated. They are held between 4pm and 9pm on May 11; there are no poll cards, postal votes or proxy votes. Electors have to go along to vote and simply confirm their name and address; they do not need to bring identification.
“Cherwell District Council will be running and counting the poll as is required in legislation and will recharge the parish.
“The poll is non-binding and is an expression of public feeling on an issue,” she said.