Door opens for Honiton Rugby Club after council reveals plans to surrender playing fields lease

PUBLISHED: 14:50 23 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:25 23 October 2019

Honiton away to Withycombe. Ref mhsp 20 18TI 3232. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton away to Withycombe. Ref mhsp 20 18TI 3232. Picture: Terry Ife

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A pitch in Honiton could soon belong to the town's rugby club after it was revealed it current owner is looking at surrendering its lease.

The rugby pitches at Allhallows Playing Fields. Pitch one is red-lined and pitch two is blue-lined. Picture: GoogleThe rugby pitches at Allhallows Playing Fields. Pitch one is red-lined and pitch two is blue-lined. Picture: Google

For years, the club has staged its training and home matches on pitches at Allhallows Playing Fields, by leasing them from East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Papers published as part of an extraordinary meeting of Honiton Town Council now reveal the district council is proposing to surrender the current lease - which has just less than eight years on it - and grant the rugby club a new 50-year lease.

The move would see the rugby club given exclusive use and possession of the rugby pitches.

Andy Canniford, development officer at Honiton Rugby Club, said: "We have been working with East Devon District Council for a couple of years on this to secure the playing pitches for Honiton Rugby Club, which allows us to move forward as a club and acquire funding from various streams and improve the facilities for our junior and senior sections."

There are two pitches at Allhallows, and the agreement will see Honiton Rugby Club secure the lease on the one closest to Honiton Leisure Centre [pitch one].

The remaining pitch [pitch two], adjacent to School Lane, will continue to be a shared asset.

This means it will be used by Honiton Community College and for public events like Charter Day.

Mr Canniford said the club is 'keen' to continue the use of Allhallows for the benefit of other community groups

The move will also see club members decide on how it wants to operate the pitches publicly.

In recent years, the club has been blighted by incidents involving dog poo left behind on the playing fields.

In January this year, a training session had to be abandoned after four children ended up covered in dog muck.

The youngsters' uniform and hands were smeared with faeces and they were immediately sent home.

The unsavoury incident happened a week after a rugby club refused to attend a match in Honiton due to concerns that the fields would contain faeces.

Mr Canniford said: "We have not made a firm decision on the public use of pitch one.

"But what we are trying to achieve is a safe and secure environment for our junior and senior teams to play rugby in."

Honiton Town Council will hold its extraordinary meeting on Monday, October 28.

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