Keep off our grass
Friday 1st August 2014 @ 19:00 by Mark Phillip

Villagers are trying to protect a piece of land which soldiers worked on when they returned home from the First World War.

They say servicemen planted a line of poplar trees at the top of the playing field in Tintwistle’s Sexton Street in 1919.

And that months later it was the scene of the first ever annual children’s gala that is as popular now as it was 95 years ago.

Parish councillors are trying to obtain Village Green Status for the field which would protect it from being built on.

But they say their bid is being blocked by United Utilities who own the field and the land nearby which the parish rooms and bowling club sit on.

Parish council chairman Bill Clarke said: “We went for Village Green status to make sure the village can keep on using it.

“The school used it from the1800s.

“We would like to go for a National Lottery grant to help us buy the land and also build a village hall at the side.

“But no one is going to lend us that kind of money if there are only a few years left on the lease.

“It’s either that or getting a 25 or a 50 year lease.”

It’s believed the field and adjoining land were originally owned by water companies who built the reservoirs between Woodhead and Tintwistle.

It was subsequently transferred to Manchester Corporation and eventually United Utilities.

High Peak Borough Council lease it from the power company, who in turn lease it on to the parish council.

Because villagers have used the land for so long without ever asking any owner’s permission, it has almost become ‘open land.’

Polly Rourke of United Utilities, confirmed the firm had objected to the Town and Village Green application.

She told us: “This is something we needed to do to protect our position as a prudent and responsible landowner.

“But we are already discussing the possible future leasing of the land with our tenants High Peak Borough Council, and as part of this process we are more than happy to engage with the parish council.”

The parish council however, with no other piece of land in sight to build a community centre/village hall, is continuing its fight.

In a bid for success it is asking people who have used the field on a regular basis for at least 20 years, without ‘special permission,’ to supply the evidence which the borough councillor Pat Jenner says will help the campaign.

He said: “It can be bonfires, car boot sales, Royal jubilee events, sports days, children playing games, things like that.

“And photographs of any event, except from the children’s gala, would be useful.”

Photographs and other kinds of evidence can be dropped off at the Tuesday coffee mornings in the parish rooms.

The parish council has until September to build its case.

by David Jones