Fall out over ground ends in court for council and football club

Horden Welfare Park.
Horden Welfare Park.
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Football club bosses have lost a legal wrangle over being evicted from their ground.

Horden Colliery Welfare Association Football Club was removed from the stadium at the village’s Welfare Park in January last year.

It had been based at the park since 1908, with the last game played in February last year against Jarrow FC.

A petition signed by more than 1,700 people was handed to the council in a bid to change its mind.

It went on to move to Grayfields, in Hartlepool, before becoming Darlington 1883 Reserves.

Now, after months of hearings, the club’s officials have been refused an appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court in Westminster, the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases.

Horden Parish Council were not prepared to renew the club’s licence to occupy the ground after it had expired due to the club being in arrears over unpaid ground fees and utility bills.

Council spokesman

The parish council has said the club was evicted from the park after it was “not prepare to renew the club’s licence to occupy the ground after it had expired due to the club being in arrears over unpaid ground fees and utility bills.”

A spokesman added: “The club refused to leave and defended the council’s legal claim of possession, despite the council’s best efforts to resolve the situation out of court and by offering a new license.

“Horden Parish Council successfully obtained an order for possession of the football ground in January 2016, following a five day trial before HHJ Kaye QC at the Moot Hall Court in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

“The council was also awarded £82,500 in legal costs against Mr Norman Stephens and Mr John Stubbs, representing the club.

“Mr Stephens and Mr Stubbs subsequently lodged a request for permission to appeal on February 24, 2016.

“This was denied by Order of LJ Kitchin on September 20, 2016.

“The applicants requested a reconsideration of that decision, which was heard before the Court of Appeal in London.

“The request for permission to appeal was refused by Order of Lord Justice Lewison at the hearing on July 13 and no appeal against the decision may be made to the

Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Stubbs and Mr Norman were approached for comment.

Horden Community Welfare FC was launched earlier this year after signing a licence with the council to use the ground for its games in the Durham Alliance league.