Organised sport forbidden on Saffron Walden Common

Ad hoc football, but no organised games, are allowed on Saffron Walden Common.

Ad hoc football, but no organised games, are allowed on Saffron Walden Common. - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden Town Council has been accused of moving the goalposts, after cracking down on football games played on the Common.

Fourteen-year-old Travis Fleetwood plays on Spartak 78’s U14 side, who enjoyed a friendly on the Common a few weekends ago after their own pitch was waterlogged.

Days later, football clubs around the town received an email from the town council asking them not to use the Common for any “organised” sport.

Travis’ mum, Leigh Fleetwood, was dismayed by the decision.

She said: “I was shocked, really. Every time I go over there you see groups of people using it for their training, but a group of boys can’t!

“I just thought it was outrageous – the Common should be for everyone.”

Mrs Fleetwood, who lives with her husband and son in Newport, added that the boys had actually cleared dog mess from the Common, effectively making it tidier than it had been before they played the match.

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“I didn’t see what the problem was. We weren’t even taking up a sixth of the Common,” she said.

Town clerk Gordon Mussett told the Reporter: “What we found was happening was that one of the football clubs was using the common as a practice area and as a result was cutting the common up, which we got complaints about from members of the public.”

In his email to the clubs, he wrote: “Whilst the general public have the right to roam freely over the Common, and unorganised sporting activities (the adhoc kick about) can occur, the law relating to commons is quite explicit – organised games are not allowed, and I have instructed town council employees to interrupt any organised sporting fixtures which may be taking place.”