Sports Association speaks up about lease dispute

STANTHORPE Sports Association has spoken out about their decision to seek legal advice about a lease dispute with Southern Downs Regional Council.    

The SSA has claimed the council have broken their lease agreement with the SSA in relation to council maintenance of the McGlew St Sporting Fields.     

The organisation has received pro bono legal assistance from Cantanzaro solicitors to argue the council has broken clauses within the contract.   

In a statement issued this afternoon, the  SSA wrote the request was a simple one.    

"The SSA is urging the Council to fulfil its obligations under the lease and recommence mowing and maintaining the fields to allow the sporting fields to be used for their permitted and intended purpose: playing sports," the statement reads.   

"Our organisation has been forced to seek legal advice after the council failed to fulfil its obligations under the lease.  

"The lease clearly sets out the following clauses: 

"One, that the purpose or "use" of the lease is to facilitate sport; two, that the lease contains the whole agreement between the parties (i.e. you can't rely on external documents), and three, that the council is responsible for the "mowing and field maintenance".   

The SSA has occupied the fields in the McGlew Street Sporting Complex for close to 60 years and all recent agreements have included the same mowing and field maintenance clause.  

The association assert that throughout this time the council followed the terms of the lease and mowed the fields to the correct standard.  

From the start of the most recent lease between the parties the council again abided by the terms and mowed and maintained the fields for around eight months.    

"Unfortunately after this time the Council then acted to change the Lease by unilaterally imposing an external document to change the maintenance standards," the statement continues.   

"The Council now treat our sports complex as if it was a park and not as a sporting field.   

"This change happened immediately, without any consultation and in direct breach of the Lease which prevents the Council relying on external documents to the agreement."   

Although the open space manual used by the council has been in place since 2012, it is the first time the council has relied on its standards for the McGlew Street Sporting Complex.  

The SSA claim these maintenance levels are not sustainable for the association and effectively remove responsibility from the council to mow the field.  

"It is disappointing that this could not have been resolved or even discussed with the Association prior to the signing of the lease.   

"Since then the SSA has had numerous meetings with the SDRC to resolve the issue.  

"At one of the meetings held on October 5 we were told that certain members of the council didn't care if sports were played in Stanthorpe or not.  

"Given such comments, and the fact that we are fighting for common sense rights which we already agreed to in a legally binding document, it seems clear the council does not wish to have sports in Stanthorpe."     

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