New lease could herald a bright future for Petworth sport

Alex Rees who is leading the revival of cricket in Petworth Park
Alex Rees who is leading the revival of cricket in Petworth Park

There could be a new era dawning for sport in Petworth Park.

There has been a year of uncertainty over the future of the sports ground in the park leased by the Petworth Park Joint Sports Association from the National Trust.

But now Petworth Town Council looks set to step in as it negotiates a new 20 year lease.

Chairman of the association Bob Sneller told its annual meeting the details were still to be sorted out but it would bring ‘security to the association and ensure there were sporting facilities available in the town’.

Negotiations began last year as the 20 year lease was due for renewal.

But said, chairman of the town council Chris Kemp, there were concerns over the decreasing amount of sports activity.

Use of the ground had dwindled with the disappearance of the old cricket club several years ago and recently the stoolball club returned to its former Tillington ground.

Also, he said, legal changes governing charities taking on leases resulted, last year, in the town council having to act as a surety.

But the way forward became clearer after he held a meeting last week, with the National Trust and sports association representatives.

The stumbling blocks,he believed had been the change in the law and “a lot of it was also that Petworth House is planning for the future and what they want from the town council is an assurance we are going to promote sports. We are going to move heaven and earth to do that and make sure we have a thriving sports ground into the future.”

He believed the future was bright with the rebirth of the popular cricket club masterminded by Alex Rees which already had more than 50 youngsters keen to take part. “We are still negotiating the lease, but if we get an amicable agreement we will set up a management team of members of the town council and the sports groups to look over the sports ground.”

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