Campaigners’ aim to reclaim Sidley ground for community

Campaigners outside the New Inn in Sidley
Campaigners outside the New Inn in Sidley

A campaign has been set up by residents and political activists to demand a disused sports ground be returned to the community.

The former Sidley Sports Ground in Glovers Lane has lain derelict for a few years.

Campaigners are planning a day of action on Saturday, August 26 when as many signatures as possible will be collected on a petition to show the strength of feeling within the community.

Christine Bayliss, who stood for Labour in the Bexhill and Battle constituency at last month’s General Election, said: “During the last few months of elections it became clear there was one strong issue that united all residents of all political colours and that was the terrible sense of loss of the sports ground.

“People have so many good memories of not only learning and playing football, cricket even stool ball but the huge sense of community and belonging they felt. The bingo, darts and parties and social gatherings are stuff of legends and so important to the whole community of Sidley.”

Andy Batsford, who grew up in Sidley and is a Hastings borough councillor, said: “I held a public meeting during the local council elections at the New Inn, which showed the strength of feeling with more than 150 people attending to make sure sure they had their say about this important issue. All wanted the site to be brought back into use for the public.

“This land being left like this is a disgrace and shows no vision nor want to invest in the people of Sidley. They want action and a commitment to the village, its young people and residents.”

The Sidley Sports and Social Club closed in April 2013 due to severe financial difficulties, leaving Sidley United Football Club and Sidley Cricket Club without a ground.

The site has stood empty and fallen into disrepair ever since and has been targeted by vandals. The clubhouse was torched by arsonists in February 2015.

Since the ground was closed, Beaulieu Homes (Southern) Limited has submitted two outline planning applications to build up to 70 homes on the land.

But both schemes were withdrawn by developers.

The first planning application generated more than 50 letters of objection, including one from Heart of Sidley, plus a petition.

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