Whistle blown on Ammies

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 November 2016

Exmouth Amateurs, which has 14 teams covering a range of ages, has had its lease withdrawn by East Devon District Council (EDDC) over debts of £8,000.

EDDC withdrew the lease for the sports field and clubhouse at Warren View Playing Field, after Exmouth Amateurs was unable to settle the debt, said to have been left behind by a former committee that ran the club.

An EDDC spokesman said the debts accrued by Exmouth Amateurs dated back to 2009.

The council said the club was still able to play on a pay-per-game basis.

A spokesman said: “The council has made arrangements that teams, who used to play on the leased pitches, can now book the same pitches through the council’s Streetscene service.

“Exmouth Amateurs leased the sports field and clubhouse from EDDC, but have run up considerable rent arrears for some time.

“The council had warned the trustees, who are the signatories of the lease, of its concerns about the arrears and a number of other issues, which included unauthorised changes to the club building, sub-letting of the land and alcohol licensing.

“There were also complaints received by the council of noise nuisance.

“In early October, the council wrote to the three trustees and the club secretary, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss management issues, but the club did not come forward with a meeting date.

“A decision was taken at the end of October to take back possession of the clubhouse and the pitches.”

The Amateurs’ previous committee, which was replaced in 2014, signed a 20-year lease for Warren View in 2005.

Jody Bolt, current president of Exmouth Amateurs, said the club could face being disbanded after being forced to source grounds for their games, making it difficult to pay the debt.

He said: “The kids are gutted. They have got nowhere to play. They have had to source different venues.

“When I rejoined the club in May 2014, I was told by the previous chairman that the club had a debt with the council. I wasn’t told how much.

“It is difficult to pay each month’s rent, then pay an extra payment.

“Sooner or later the club will go bust.”

He added: “Ever since we took over the club, we have paid our rent every month. I didn’t feel it was right to carry on the non-payment of rent.

“First and foremost, it is not clear as to why we are being removed from our home ground.

“I am absolutely appalled we had to go down to the gate and have a council official to open the gates and the clubhouse.

“EDDC are claiming we do not look after the place.”

The Exmouth Halsdon ward member, Councillor Pauline Stott, issued a statement, saying the district council had no choice but to remove the club from the premises.

She said: “We had no alternative but to take back the lease to ensure that the pitches and buildings were being managed properly.

“We have lots of football teams in Exmouth who want grounds to play on and are willing to abide by the terms of a lease.

“Exmouth Amateurs could have come to EDDC or written to resolve its problems, but even though we made it clear that these issues needed to be urgently resolved, no one came forward.

“We have all spent time trying to resolve this issue over the last two years.

“The council gave them three months in which to raise just some of the money, but received no reply.”

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