Ollerton Welfare demolition sparks sports fears

CONCERNED Ollerton community leaders have voiced their concerns for the town’s future sports provision after it emerged that the derelict former miners’ welfare building is set to be demolished.

Ollerton and Bevercotes Miners’ Welfare has stood derelict since it went into administration in 2009 and has been a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

But while folk have welcomed moves to demolish the Whinney Lane eyesore, there are also fears over the future of some sports clubs who play on the Walesby Road playing field.

The field belonged to the welfare, which was run by the Miners’ Welfare Trust charity.

Said Stella Smedley, Nottinghamshire county councillor for Ollerton: “They should be returned to the charitable organisation. Miners paid for those facilities. They have been very well used and the bowling green is a sports outlet for older people who get great pleasure from bowling and the club is thriving.

“There is a moral obligation by those in control to return these facilities to the people who have paid for them and used them.”

Ben Wells, a former trustee and director of the welfare, said he was pleased with the plans to pull the building down as it would solve the spate of vandalism problems it had suffered.

But he added: “I would hope that the sporting facilities will be retained and that some sort of development takes place. The plans will be in the hands of whichever developers come along.”

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer, chaired a meeting on 13th May with police and fire representatives, trustees of the former miners’ welfare, the receiver and the land agent, as well as members of the town council and Newark & Sherwood District Council.

He said his view was there was no reason to believe the sports facilities will not be retained.

“People are right to draw attention to the fact it’s possible (that the facilities could be lost), but the ones with the power are the trustees and receiver and they agree they should remain.

“The worst case scenario would be if the national charity said ‘these assets are ours and not the local charity’s’, but they have the same aims as the local one.”

On the demolition, Mr Spencer added: “It was clear to me that responsibility was being passed from person to person with nothing being done and I was keen to bring everyone together to move things forward.

“Following a long overdue frank exchange of views, it has been possible to identify where this project kept getting stuck and we can finally say that we now have an assurance from the receiver that a certificate for demolition has been obtained and a contractor appointed to begin demolition before the 1st June.”