Calls for action to solve
Berry Hill Park stand-off

Calls are being made for Berry Hill Park’s board of trustees to meet with Mansfield District Council and the town’s athletic club to find a solution to problems over its usage.

The comments come in response to claims from Berry Hill residents, politicians and athletics representatives that the park is not being run according to the wishes of Mansfield people.

Berry Hill Park.

Berry Hill Park.

In recent weeks the Chad has reported the concerns of various members of the public, who say they are worried about the introduction of security staff at the park.

Since then the trustees of Berry Hill Park limited, who run the park on behalf of the charity Berry Hill Social Welfare Centre, have also come in for criticism that they have failed to attract the kind of events which could contribute to the town’s economy.

A representative of the Mansfield Harriers said the park had gone ‘from hero to zero’ as an athletic events venue in the last few years.

The source, who asked not to be named, said: “We have gone from a figure of 30 events per year at Berry Hill to just the National Cross-Country Relays in November.

“The park has gone from a fairly primary athletics venue to nothing in a very short time and you have to ask why someone would let that happen.

“Not only were these events good for athletics but they brought revenue into the town. We have the only ten-lane, straight track in the county and it is no longer hosting any events.”

Prior to November 2010 the Harriers had responsibility for maintenance of park facilities until the trustees took over and began charging them a monthly usage fee.

But the club was eventually evicted when agreement could not be reached over disputed arrears in payments and the trustees’ insistence that the Harriers should have a health and safety officer permanently watching the site.

Town Rotarian Stewart Rickersey, who at one time was employed by the trustees as a consultant to organise events, said his involvement came to an end when the park’s management pulled out of a plan to stage seven events during the course of a year.

If they had gone ahead the events would have netted the charity at least £20,000 in revenue.

Mr Rickersey said: “There was a risk in that if any of the events failed the Trust could have lost significant amounts of money each time and you can understand them as trustees not wanting to take that risk.

“But they have lost the County Athletics Championships and the Midlands Cross-Country Championships which have been held at Berry Hill for many years and have now gone elsewhere.”

But Mr Rickersey said the blame for the park’s failure as a big events host did not sit entirely with the trustees.

They maintain they are still owed vital investment money by Mansfield District Council.

Ray Jackson-Smith, secretary to the board of Trustees, told Chad last year Mansfield District Council owed the trustees around £400,000, including repairs already made to the park and missed payments towards track maintenance.

Mr Rickersey added: “If you could get 15-20 people in a room with an official arbitrator, lock the door and go through all the paperwork piecemeal you would get it resolved.

“The problem is everyone is arguing their point separately.”

Chad has been unable to contact Berry Hill Park’s board of trustees for a comment despite continued attempts to do so.