Football club handed ownership of Goodmayes Park Extension

Ownership of parkland will be transferred to a community sports club on a lease following four years of wrangling over its future.

Senior councillors voted unanimously to hand the 25-acre Goodmayes Park Extension, in Goodmayes Lane, to Singh Sabha Football Club at a cabinet meeting at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford last night.

The decision follows months of debate between the club, residents and council members over the decision to hand over the land on a long lease for a nominal “peppercorn” rent.

The council will now enter consultation with the club over the how long the lease for the land will last.

Cllr Sue Nolan, cabinet member for leisure, said: “I realise that this is an emotive issue.

“There has been a lot of misinformation here, but Singh Sabha has stated that they aim to work with the community.

“They are a group run by volunteers and funded by sponsorship.”

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The club, which dates back to 1969, will use the lease to secure grant funding to renovate the ground. It plans to build new changing rooms and other sporting facilities, including some for cricket and hockey.

Public rights of way, like a new cycle route, will be protected under written terms.

A number of residents �objected to the move, saying that it created a “dangerous precedent” for the disposal of public assets.

Richard Leighton, one of six who spoke against the decision, said: “Friends of Goodmayes Park had many schemes for the extension, but we were never consulted.

“People are upset about giving away green belt land for nothing.”

Another speaker, John Keyes, said his Gaelic football club approached the council about the land 18 months ago to be told it was “unavailable”.

But Cllr Nolan insisted consultation had taken place, with an advertisement in the Recorder, and that it will �continue to take place.

Cllr Ali Hai (Goodmayes) attacked Labour colleagues who �supported the plan.

He said: “Would they be so relaxed and generous about giving away their own property? Of course not.”