A ROW has erupted after a village football club’s bid for a £1,000 community grant for equipment was turned down.

Chairman of Winsham Football Club Russell Haggard has hit out at the parish council for turning down the bid, saying it suggests councillors do not think the club is “part of the community”.

However, the council denied the claim and said the application was turned down, along with others, as conditions stipulated ‘monies should not be for core items/day-to-day running costs’.

But Mr Haggard, who has been chairman for 12 years, said the decision was also shocking as it came after the club helped with the installation of a phone mast on the playing fields which saw some games cancelled.

He said: “To hear we are ‘not part of the community’ is infuriating. When (they) installed the mast so the village had better service, they used football ground land.

“It was me who waited for them for days to come and install it, despite the council being given £25,000.

“We even had to cancel some of our games.”

He added: “We’ve been running since 1895, and now we aren’t even part of the community. We’re one of the oldest clubs in the league.

“Locals come and watch the games and have a drink in the social club. It’s because no-one on the council has an interest in sport.”

Mr Haggard is also the chairman for the Sports and Social Club, which was successful in securing a grant, but the disgruntled leader says he will not be using the money out of principle.

A statement from the parish council said: “Winsham Parish Council emphatically denies making the statement at any time that Winsham United Football Club was ‘not part of the community’. This is wholly erroneous and without foundation.

“The new telecommunications mast was installed by Shared Access on behalf of Vodafone and O2. In return for the rent of the parish council land, which is subsequently leased to the Trustees of the Playing Fields charity to manage it for another 50 years, approximately £20,000 went to the parish council and £5,000 to the charity to represent the partial surrender of their lease.

“The grant to the football club was declined primarily because it failed to meet one of the conditions of our grant policy, namely, that monies should not be for core items/day-to-day running costs.

“It is also worth pointing out that the council also rejected another grant for the same amount - £1,000 - to the Parish Church of St Stephen, in Winsham, because that, too, also conflicted with the policy. On a positive note, the council did award £2,000 to the local primary school for its computer appeal, £1,000 to the Sports & Social club (a leased, but nonetheless parish-owned building) and £200 to St Stephen’s for three smaller items.

“Winsham Parish Council categorically denies any wrongdoing, discrimination or differential treatment against Winsham United Football Club.

“The decision taken by the parish council at its October 2017 meeting was open to the public, was democratic and in good faith with the best interests of the entire community at heart.”