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What a net loss!

PUBLISHED: 12:45 24 April 2014

Archant

Cash-strapped Ottery AFC could miss out on thousands of pounds in much-needed funding after civic leaders supported taking a reduced offer of community cash from a developer.

The struggling football club is in line to receive £230,000 from Redrow Homes as part of a ‘playing field contribution’ the company agreed to when it applied to build 130 homes on land east of Butts Road.

But last week it was revealed that East Devon District Council planners were in negotiations with the developer over accepting a lower amount, amid concerns the original figure was unreasonably high.

Ottery AFC treasurer Richard Rogers said the volunteer staff had to struggle from month to month to keep the balance in the black, and that the money could make ‘a huge difference’ to the club.

He said: “I think some people assume because we run the bar there we make a lot of money, but we really don’t – it just about covers our costs.”

He added that with the Redrow cash the club could look to carry out essential maintenance work and possibly even fund the conversion of the front field into an all-weather training pitch. But the football club’s loss could be the parish’s gain, as an offer of less money from Redrow would come with greater flexibility on where the cash could be spent.

At a meeting on Monday, Ottery Town Council considered its response to EDDC.

Although members were unanimous in agreeing that the matter should be debated in public by EDDC’s planning committee, there was disagreement over which option the town should support.

Councillor Roger Giles said: “I think we should be pushing for the whole amount to be paid.

“The legal argument here is that Redrow has signed up to this agreement and shouldn’t be able to get out of it.”

But Cllr Martin Thurgood warned council colleagues that supporting a push for the full amount could see the town ‘win the argument but lose out overall’.

“If we recommend sticking with the £230,000, it is written in the agreement that it is money that will go to improve fields at the football club.

“If we support the revised agreement, there is a change of wording that allows a wider range [of spending options].”

Members voted seven to five in favour of accepting a lower amount, on the condition that it could be used to benefit recreation facilities across the parish and not just the football club.

The matter will now be considered by the chairman of EDDC’s planning committee, and a decision taken as to the way forward in considering the revised contribution.

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