‘Save West Byfleet Recreation Ground’ Campaign Group
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PRESS RELEASE: 9 October 2018
CAMPAIGN GROUP REQUESTS MEETING WITH WOKING BOROUGH COUNCIL AND MARSTON’S PLC TO RESOLVE DISPUTED WEST BYFLEET RECREATION GROUND
1. On 9th October we wrote a joint letter to Woking Borough Council and Marston’s plc requesting a meeting with their representatives and legal advisers about the future of the West Byfleet Recreation Ground to prevent further waste of public money and shareholder value. (please click here to view this letter)
2. The West Byfleet Stakeholder Group has been attempting to engage with Woking Borough Council and Marston’s since it was discovered that WBC Executive had agreed on 2 February 2017 to sell part of the Recreation Ground to Marstons’ plc once Marston’s plc have obtained planning permission for a pub restaurant.
3. We believe this to be unlawful because:
a. The decision to sell the land was not taken in accordance with Charities Law,
b. The sale of any part of West Byfleet Recreation Ground cannot be in the best interests of the Recreation Ground Charity as the use to which the land would be put by the proposed buyer is not consistent with the purpose of the charity, and
c. Woking Borough Council and its Executive have failed to address the conflict of interest in it being the trustee of the Recreation Ground Charity and the planning authority which will ultimately make the planning decision about allowing a pub on the Recreation Ground.
4. On 16 and 18 July 2018 the stakeholders wrote to WBC about our concerns regarding WBC’s conduct and management of the Recreation Ground Charity (charity number 304985). We have yet to receive a comprehensive reply to those letters.
5. On 2nd August we submitted a complaint to the Charity Commission on behalf of the stakeholders of West Byfleet Recreation Ground about the failure of Woking Borough Council to properly fulfil its legal duties as sole trustee of the Recreation Ground Charity. We understand our complaint has been through the initial assessment process and is awaiting allocation to a case officer.
6. The West Byfleet Stakeholder Group includes the local Residents’ Association, Neighbourhood Forum, local schools, church, bowls club and scout and guide groups as well as many individuals who have joined the ‘Save West Byfleet Recreation Ground’ Facebook group.
7. The Recreation Ground Charity was established in 1913 after a piece of land (now known as West Byfleet Recreation Ground) was gifted to the charity to be used “as and for a Recreation Ground for the inhabitants of the Parish of Byfleet”. The Recreation Ground Charity (charity number 304985) still exists today. The trustee, following several local government reorganisations over the last century, is now Woking Borough Council.