A DISPUTE between Hazlemere Parish Council and a volunteer group has erupted after the council chairman suggested the group had been creaming off the profits of the village pavilion.
Writing about the pavilion on the councils behalf in a recent Hazlemere Fete newsletter, Cllr Brian Mapletoft made the claim, which he says was written based on fact.
In the notice, he said: “Whilst a definitive meeting with the other side (Hazlemere Sports Association) via our negotiators is still pending at the time of writing, our broad aims are to open the facility to all Hazlemere, including opening the preschool all day.
“Other ideas are to open up the changing rooms to the public for a fee and to hire out facilities without a middle man creaming off the profits.”
This comes after a long-running battle over the tenancy of the pavilion with the row centring over a ‘£1 peppercorn lease’ which the council’s solicitors saying the agreement has expired, it is not legally binding and they want a commercial lease in place on the pavilion, valued at £40,500 per year.
The sports association now have less than a month left in the pavilion, in the Recreation Ground, before a section 25 order means they have to vacate the premises.
In the letter to parish councillors, HSA representatives said: “This comment really is upsetting. For the past four years, the pavilion has been run by a small team of volunteers none of whom have taken a penny for their time.
“Membership subscriptions and other monies received are applied to the running and maintenance of the building and in furthering the objects of HSA which are the promotion of sport in this area.”
They added we invite the chairman to apologise for his misleading and defamatory comments and ask other councillors if they wish to associate themselves with these remarks.
John Horton of the HSA said: “That Hazlemere Parish Council under Mr Mapletoft's chairmanship has declined numerous offers to meet with representatives from our sports clubs, preferring to use expensive lawyers and surveyors to conduct discussions.
“(The HPC) has declined two proposals from HSA during this time for a new tenancy arrangement, without given us any explanation of their reasons, or make any practical concessions so far on the issues that we have raised through their professional advisers.”
However, Cllr Mapletoft has refuted the claims by saying his statement was based on fact.
He said: “I thought it was a non-controversial statement because I was stating a fact, they are using public facilities and charging people to use them but the money isn’t coming back into the public domain as the council do not receive anything.
“It is in the hands of our solicitors at this time and I have to say perhaps they are trying to cause problems by stirring things up.
“The parish council has tried to consult with them and the public to reach a solution. I don’t really know why they are bringing this all up now when they have had the whole of the last four years to discuss it.”
He added: “Since I have become chairman they have never made an adequate proposal for us to consider.
“I believe they did discuss this before I became chairman, they offered a proposal which was rejected because the council felt it was inadequate.
“Of course we are willing to consider their offers and we want to reach a solution but it needs to be right for the parish.”