A leading Kirklees councillor has described a businessman’s actions in demolishing a bowling club’s outbuildings and building a bonfire on its green as “contemptible.”
Clr Andrew Cooper said he was “horrified” at Stuart Smith’s actions in flattening Newsome Community Sports and Bowling Club’s facilities at the former Newsome WMC on St John’s Road.
His actions come against the backdrop of a huge row about the future of the bowling club which has been using the green since 1905.
Members of the club have been left fuming after Mr Smith locked them out of the green after buying a two year option on the old WMC last year.
The club went into liquidation and Mr Smith bought the site for £250,000. He later submitted plans to Kirklees Council for four townhouses and three bungalows.
However, at the end of July he said this had been changed into six apartments or a house of multiple occupancy.
Green party leader Clr Cooper said: “I am horrified at what Stuart has done. There was a covenant on the land which meant it could only be used as a bowling ground.
“In my opinion he has ridden roughshod over a legal document.
“I think people who don’t approach things in the proper way do not deserve to get their own way.
“He has shown a complete lack of respect for the community and has behaved in a contemptible fashion.
“The covenants on that land, which not been lifted, means there is still the opportunity for the bowlers to go back in the future.
“What Stuart Smith is doing means he is making that as difficult as possible for that to happen. Though the bowlers still exist as a group they have been forced away.
“He has basically evicted them from their own bowling green. I have been in touch with Kirklees Council’s estates department to ask them what action can be taken against him.
“He has shown utter contempt for the community.”
Jacqueline Sullivan, secretary of Newsome Community, Sports and Bowling Club, said she was “sickened “ at what Mr Smith had done.
She said: “I just wish Kirklees Council had some teeth. It’s an historic ground and it has seen some top bowlers playing on it in its time.
“We know there is nothing we can do about it but we will still fight to keep the covenant so he can’t profit from his actions. He can’t build on it while there is a covenant on it.
“We will be holding a meeting of the club shortly to dissolve it and that will be an end of it. It’s probably the end as far as bowling there is concerned.”
Mr Smith previously put padlocks on the gates to keep bowlers out forcing them to bring in cutting gear to gain access.
Mr Smith did not respond to a request for a comment.