Hitchin Football Club’s Top Field saga officially over as trustees bow to public

Top Field.

Top Field. - Credit: Archant

It’s official – the controversial plans to relocate Hitchin Town FC from its historic Top Field home ground have finally been scrapped.

The long-running dispute between the club and the trustees who own the land has been confirmed as being over following an exclusive briefing to the Comet.

The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust has officially decided the proposed plans to move the club to a site on Stevenage Road and redevelop Top Field are dead in the water.

A spokesman said: “As trustees we always knew the ultimate decision for the proposal would be made by the people of Hitchin through the planning process. “The people of Hitchin have made it very clear they would not be happy with the proposal and it did not reach the planning process.

“As a trust we do not consider we have either ‘won’ or ‘lost’ the opportunity, but instead there was simply an opportunity for the people of Hitchin to decide upon.

“The trustees have not benefitted financially in any way, and will not, owing to our volunteer status as set out in the terms of the charity scheme.

“Had the project been successful, any resulting profit would have been used solely for the purposes of the charitable scheme under which the trust is governed.

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“All legal expenses paid by HTFC (Top Field) Limited/Celeriter Limited were as a result of the action they brought against the trust when they made the decision to resist the development break clause, which the trust was fully at liberty to ask for.”

Figures of around £100,000 were believed to be involved in terms of legal fees which the club were seeking to recover.

Club chief executive Andy Melvin, responding to the trustees’ comments on Wednesday afternoon, said: “This is an attempt at a cover up of the clear breaches of charity law that have been committed by the trustees.

“The trustees were under a duty to consult the people of Hitchin under section 121 of the Charities Act before they entered into any transaction.

“Had they done so the will of the people would have been clear without the unnecessary expenditure of £100,000 by the club in securing a break clause linked to the very specific transaction proposed by New Road (Ltd) and Richard Daniels, rather than the very wide clause initially demanded by the trustees.

“We have raised a whole catalogue of misfeasance by the trustees. This matter is far from closed.”

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