Council cash denied after Harriers evicted

Mansfield Mayor Tony Egginton has set the record straight regarding a dispute over cash owed to Berry Hill Park’s board of trustees.

Berry Hill Park’s board of Trustees have always maintained they are still owed vital investment money by Mansfield District Council.

Ray Jackson-Smith, chairman of the board of Trustees, told Chad last year Mansfield District Council owed the trustees around £400,000, including repairs already made to the park and missed payments towards track maintenance.

But Mayor Egginton told Chad this week the council did not accept it owed the amount claimed.

He said: “Money was set aside to address any necessary maintenance costs for the athletics track, which equates to £90,000.

“This reserve was established in support of the original grant received from Sports England to build the running track, to provide assurance that resources would be available to support future track repairs or refurbishment if required.

“As part of the 2013-14 budget, in light of the exclusion of Mansfield Harriers from the site, this reserve was transferred to the Council’s leisure development budget to enable the wider support of other sports development activity across the district.

“So far this year no spending commitments have been made against this budget.”

Questions have also been asked about whether the Sport England grant of £161,384 which was awarded to Berry Hill Social Welfare Centre in 2003 should have been returned when the Harriers were evicted.

But a Sport England spokesman said there were no plans to ask for the money back as long as the park’s facilities were open to the public.

Berry Hill Park’s trustees currently charge a small fee on an individual basis for the track’s use.

The spokesman said: “In 2003 Sport England awarded £161,384 from our Community Athletics Refurbishment Programme to Berry Hill Social Welfare Centre to improve the athletics facilities at Berry Hill.

“We are working with the Trust on their current plans to ensure the long term sustainability of the athletics facilities and how it can best meet the needs of the community.”