Councils clash in sports pitch row

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A ROW over the noise from an all-weather sports pitch has landed the taxpayer with a bill of at least £15,000.

Three residents complained about the noise from the pitch at the Greasley Sports and Community Centre, in Dovecote Road, early last year.

Greasley Parish Council, which runs the centre, was ordered to tackle the problem by Broxtowe Borough Council, when it issued a noise abatement order.

The borough council then pursued the alleged breach of the order through the courts, which led to both authorities building up legal bills.

The dispute ran on until a hearing mid December, when noise-busting remedial works were agreed by the disputing sides.

District Judge Morris Cooper dismissed the charge against Greasley Parish Council at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court after the prosecution offered no evidence.

He said: “I dread to think how much it has cost already.”

Nottinghamshire County Council supported the parish council in the legal battle as it had paid for the games area and the parish council provided the land.

Speaking after the court’s decision, Philip Owen, county councillor for Nuthall, accused Broxtowe Borough Council of ‘bullying’ tactics.

He said: “Broxtowe took Greasley Parish Council to court, which I think is bullying, and we as a county council are not going to let Broxtowe Borough Council bully a parish council.”

Despite the climb-down, the noise abatement notice will remain, which Mr Owen said was “highly irresponsible” of the borough council.

He said: “I hope they remove it, so the community can continue to benefit from this wonderful facility.”

He said it has cost the taxpayer £15,000 in legal fees, as an out-of-house firm had to be consulted.

However, a spokesman for the county council could not confirm the figure quoted by Mr Owen as the authority has not yet been billed.

Broxtowe Borough Council said it used its own legal team to keep to the ‘best price’, but could not put a figure on this.

Now, both the county and borough council will spend £18,000 on improvements to reduce noise at the site – £12,000 from the county council and the rest from Broxtowe’s coffers.

The improvements will include sound-absorbing rubberised strips being fitted on the 72 metal posts attached to the fencing to the pitches to reduce the noise of metal on metal.

When asked why the case reached court, a Broxtowe Council spokeswoman said: “Because no action to tackle the noise was taken prior to the court proceedings.”