Charitable playing field meets public benefit requirement, Charity Commission concludes

Local authority proposes changes to the operation of Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field after concerns about limited access to the public

Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field
Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field

The Charity Commission has concluded that a charitable playing field used as a base for a non-league football club in Spalding, Lincolnshire, is operating for sufficient public benefit following proposals by the local council, the sole trustee of the field, to change the way it operates.

The changes include the formation of a working group "to consider ongoing public use in light of Charity Commission guidance" and a revised, clearer booking form. The commission opened an operational compliance case in March 2013 after receiving concerns about limited access by the public.

Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, which was formed in 1952, has objects that state it is "a playing field for the benefit of the inhabitants of the town of Spalding" and has South Holland District Council as its sole trustee.

The field is the regular base for Spalding United Football Club, an amateur team in the ninth tier of the English football league.

A spokeswoman for the commission said it raised the issue with the trustee, and received "a substantive response to our request for a fuller explanation of the operation of this charity in furtherance of its objects".

The spokeswoman for the regulator said: "The commission concluded that the trustee is operating within the framework of our published advice and guidance, and we have therefore decided that our case can now be closed."

During the case, the trustee "proposed some changes to the future operation of the charity, including the formation of a working group to consider ongoing public use in light of Charity Commission guidance and a revised, clearer booking form", a spokesman for the council said.

She said the football club was "subject to the same booking process" as any other hirer.

The commission spokeswoman said: "The council has taken sufficient steps to demonstrate that, under revised arrangements they have proposed, there will be adequate public benefit."

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