Football club can open later after 'blue rinse' jibe by Jim Smith

Oxford Mail: Jim Smith Jim Smith

A FOOTBALL club, which came under fire after an official branded residents “blue rinse septuagenarians”, is allowed to open its pavilion later in the evening.

But following a campaign by residents – and uproar when an official branded them “nimby dog-walking Daily Mail-reading blue rinse septuagenarians” – Oxford City Council has agreed a compromise of shorter opening hours for the South Oxford club.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the west area planning committee approved opening hours of up to 9pm for the Whitehouse Road pavilion.

Peter Berry, of the Salter Close and Whitehouse Road Residents’ Association, told the meeting: “We have several residents living just across the road from the pavilion who are in their middle- or late-70s.

“Some of them are bed-ridden and many were placed in this area by the city council to get away from noisy areas.

“We understand this pavilion is for young boys and girls to get changed in and shower in and we feel the closing time is adequate.”

The city council is spending £736,000 on the new pavilion which will include two team changing rooms, two changing rooms for officials, toilets, a kitchen and a club room.

It will keep ownership of the facility but lease it to Hinksey Park FC.

At the moment the pavilion is restricted by a closing time of 6pm – something the club originally applied for planning permission to change to 11pm, but later said it would accept a closing time of 9.30pm.

Club chairman Jim Smith, pictured, apologised at the meeting for the comments about the residents which were included in an email sent by an official of Hinksey Park FC to its members.

He said: “We will not be providing alcohol apart from at our annual summer event which takes place in the day and we will apply for a licence for it.”

The committee agreed the extended – but shorter – opening times as well as placing conditions on the pavilion which prevent amplified music from being played after 6pm.

Bob Price, the leader of the city council and a ward councillor for Hinksey Park, said: “It does seem to me that 11pm was unnecessary and I think there was a bit of misunderstanding. It was never the intention to have big social events at the pavilion.

“It is such a great pavilion and it would be very sad if it couldn’t be used in the evening.”

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