Appeal for new Petworth Park '˜sports champions'

As a new era dawns for the sports ground in Petworth Park an appeal has gone out for new sportsmen and women to come forward.

Monday, 20th March 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:07 am
Alex Rees who has formed a new youth cricket club in Petworth Park
Alex Rees who has formed a new youth cricket club in Petworth Park

Petworth town councillors have stepped in to take over the National Trust (NT) lease from the Joint Sports Association (JSA) after the JSA’s attempts to renew it faltered.

At a full meeting of the council chairman Chris Kemp said negotiations were nearing completion and he hoped they would soon be able to make a decision on the new lease.

He said a ‘task and finish’ group was being convened to set up a management group to run the sports ground which would consist of members of the JSA, the new cricket club and the town council.

But he said the town council’s commitment to the NT was to promote sport in Petworth Park.

“This sports ground is for everybody. There is a facility there in the most beautiful location and we would be happy to consider any other sports people would like to see.”

“One thing I have noticed is that the sports association seems to be a bit ‘male heavy’ at the moment.”

The ladies’ stoolball had moved to Tillington and there was no junior football at the park which could include girls as the new junior cricket club had attracted large numbers of boys and girls.

“This is a great opportunity for people to have a conversation with us. It would be nice to see stoolball back in the park. We would also love someone to head up junior football as Alex has with the cricket and anyone else who would like to bring their sport to the grounds. The success of sport in any community is the younger ones.”

David Burden said he had been asked ‘why the town council is involving itself in sport when it worked perfectly well without them’.

Mr Kemp said it was taking on the lease because due to changes in the Charities Act the JSA was no longer a ‘substantial enough entity’.

“The JSA have done a damned good job at keeping sport going for a long time, but times change. “What we are doing is not strange, many other councils council sports grounds with a management committee in their communities.”

Michael Peet added: “It isn’t us, it’s the NT. It is their park and they could close the gate if they wanted to. We are trying to help sport.”

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