RESIDENTS from a village near Oswestry have formed a group to take over the care of their playing field following complaints of dropping standards in maintenance.
Morton playing field has been maintained by Oswestry Rural Parish Council as part of a 21-year-lease.
It continued to cut the grass for six years after the lease ended, costing the council more than £1,000 a year.
But the council has now withdrawn its financial support, believing the Parochial Church Council of Morton should now maintain the field as part of the lease terms which states Morton Church wardens are trustees and should care for the field.
Residents developed the Playing Fields Association to tackle the issue and they are fully supported by the council. John Killick, chairman of the association, said: “They [the council] tried to negotiate with the Parochial Church Council of Morton as the manager of the field but they were unable to get any information.
“The field has been roughly cut on the top and it’s been left in a mess. It is more like silaging than cutting.”
The association suggested registering the land in the Fields in Trust or the Queen Elizabeth II trust to gain funding for maintenance but the church wardens prevented management changing hands.
Andrew Morrison, one of the Morton Church wardens, said: “The playing field is tied up in a deed and it is secure, so there is no need for it to go into trust.
“The trustees of the church set up the initial meeting and there were certain ideas we couldn’t go along with. The field has been donated to the community and yet we still had to face a conflict of interests. We thought it had been a productive meeting.
“It is a playing field, there is not meant to be a pristine service.”
Members of a rounders team reported rabbit holes across the field and fear it may cause health and safety issues when they host matches. Sarah Bone, captain of the local rounders team, said: “We play in a league of 19 teams and we host games, so we do worry that someone could get hurt or twist their ankle. All we can do it point out where the holes are.
“We have to take sand and soil and try and fill the rabbit holes in before we play a match. We even changed sides of the field in the hope that it would be better but it is just the same.
“If the playing field is no longer suitable we would have to go to Oswestry to play and we would have to pay to use another pitch.”
However Mr Morrison claimed there are no issues with rabbits, adding: “The last time we checked the field we couldn’t find any rabbit holes and that was not more than a month ago. We have tried to do what we can, the field is still being used and we are just trying to keep it open so that
people can still use it.”