War of words over footpath access

The Oxford Times: Town council leader Margaret Davies in front of the gate which is locked by Didcot Football Club. Picture: OX64070 Kevin Harvey Buy this photo » Town council leader Margaret Davies in front of the gate which is locked by Didcot Football Club. Picture: OX64070 Kevin Harvey

A LEGAL battle between Didcot Town Football Club and Didcot Town Council has been launched over a footpath.

The fight over access to a path from Ladygrove Park to Willowbrook Leisure Centre has come to a head in the past few weeks.

The council argues the path has been illegally blocked, barring the access of Ladygrove residents to the centre since May 2011.

The land is owned by the football club which locks the gates at both ends of the path. But the council says a 2002 lease from 1998 for 99 years includes the right to use the path on the club’s land from the centre to the town council’s land at Ladygrove Park near the Ladygrove Loop.

Town Council leader Margaret Davies said: “Residents just cannot understand why out of the blue the club decided to lock the gates to the path which has been open for nine years.

“It makes it very difficult for people who use the park or the tennis courts who may want to use the toilets of facilities at the leisure centre.

“We have decided to continue with the legal process for now. We are hoping for a neighbourly resolution but in the meantime we are taking legal action for the benefit of residents.”

A “letter before legal action” was sent to the club on behalf of the council by Didcot-based solicitors Slade Legal in October.

It said: “You should know at the outset that we have advised our clients they have legitimate grounds for taking legal action against you.”

A reply by member of DTFC’s executive committee, Justin Lambourne, said: “I am astonished by the actions of Didcot Town Council in this matter.

“The agreement stated that the council would be wholly responsible for the opening and closing of the gates to this land, this is a fundamental principle to this agreement.

Related links

“Didcot town council failed continuously to abide by this requirement or prevent the misuse of the facility.”

The letter states dogs fouled on their pitches, glass and litter were left on their land, more than £2,000 of damage was caused by vandals, motorcycles were driven onto the pitch and drug syringes were found by the leisure centre.

The dispute could go to court if it is not settled in a month.

Cllr Davies said they have offered to meet with the club next week to find a solution, but if none is found councillors may decide to launch court proceedings at Didcot Town Council’s full meeting on January 13.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:01am Fri 13 Dec 13

jason37 says...

Good, we live in Bowmont Water, and used to access the park walking throught there, it was also safe for the children to go to the park on their own, now they have to walk along the footpath that borders the railway line or along the road to get the the park, alternatively we just dont use the park anymore!
Good, we live in Bowmont Water, and used to access the park walking throught there, it was also safe for the children to go to the park on their own, now they have to walk along the footpath that borders the railway line or along the road to get the the park, alternatively we just dont use the park anymore! jason37

1:24pm Fri 13 Dec 13

Adrian1 says...

So it's football club land for which the council have a right of access agreement and will be responsible for the gates opening and closing. Due to poor behaviour of a few of those with access and it seems little policing, as seems to be policy, much damage was done to property and land making it potentially dangerous for all, so the football club has locked the gates. Given there is an access agreement they are in the wrong, albeit I feel, correct to protect their property, health of users, and land. I figure making the path and only the path accessible with a cage is the only way of fulfilling the legal obligation the club appears to have currently signed. Shame the area can't be policed better or better still the few who ruin life for all to grow up and act responsibly.
So it's football club land for which the council have a right of access agreement and will be responsible for the gates opening and closing. Due to poor behaviour of a few of those with access and it seems little policing, as seems to be policy, much damage was done to property and land making it potentially dangerous for all, so the football club has locked the gates. Given there is an access agreement they are in the wrong, albeit I feel, correct to protect their property, health of users, and land. I figure making the path and only the path accessible with a cage is the only way of fulfilling the legal obligation the club appears to have currently signed. Shame the area can't be policed better or better still the few who ruin life for all to grow up and act responsibly. Adrian1

3:02pm Sat 14 Dec 13

HPG says...

Breaking contract agreements? Withdraw contract and their use of land then.
Perhaps council could then build large all weather pitches, money go to cost of maintaing them and not to fund football club, and clubs and teams can stay in this so called large town of the area and not have to goto Abingdon or Wallingford to use their pitches
Breaking contract agreements? Withdraw contract and their use of land then. Perhaps council could then build large all weather pitches, money go to cost of maintaing them and not to fund football club, and clubs and teams can stay in this so called large town of the area and not have to goto Abingdon or Wallingford to use their pitches HPG

2:14pm Sun 15 Dec 13

Cedarox says...

Pathetic by DTFC. Talk about bitting the hand that feeds the cradle. The football club have been getting preferential treatment for years from the council often at the expense of other local clubs.
Pathetic by DTFC. Talk about bitting the hand that feeds the cradle. The football club have been getting preferential treatment for years from the council often at the expense of other local clubs. Cedarox

9:02am Wed 18 Dec 13

Smelly11 says...

Best the football club stop their comittee members dumping building waste and other rubbish on the small plot of land around the back of the function room if they're are that worried about waste.
Best the football club stop their comittee members dumping building waste and other rubbish on the small plot of land around the back of the function room if they're are that worried about waste. Smelly11

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree