Fair play! Councillors step in to save 112-year-old Cromer Lifeboat Football Cup after council charges threaten to KO competition

Nigel Worthington presents Runton FC with the winning cup at the 2016 Cromer Lifeboat Cup at Cabbell

Nigel Worthington presents Runton FC with the winning cup at the 2016 Cromer Lifeboat Cup at Cabbell Park. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A trio of district councillors have stepped in to pay unexpected charges for a popular and historic football tournament which raises money for the Cromer RNLI lifeboat.

The Cromer Lifeboat Cup Competition which is in its 112th year has been held on the town's Cabbell Park since the 1920s, previously free of charge.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), which has recently taken ownership of the land, introduced a £280 charge for seven out of the eight tournament matches on the football pitch.

Derek Hinds, chairman of the Cromer Lifeboat Football Cup Competition, said he was 'a little bit shocked' at the charge.

But he said it was 'brilliant' three district councillors including NNDC chairman and Cromer fisherman John Lee and member Angie Fitch-Tillett paid the fees.

Mr Hinds was not worried about the future of the tournament.

He said: 'Long-term I hope the council can look at this issue but I appreciate they must not set a precedent for other events. If we need to, we [the committee and council] will work together in the future to sort something out for next season.'

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The competition finishes on May 1 at 6.30pm and includes eight teams from Cromer and surrounding area.

NNDC are not charging the committee for the final match but are charging £20 for the use of the changing rooms at Cromer Sports Centre on Norwich Road and £20 for the use of Cabbell Park pitch for all seven preliminary matches.

NNDC took ownership of Cabbell Park in 2012 under the terms of a trust deed and have since sold the front section of land to accommodate the £3.5m medical centre which is under construction.

The Cabbell Park football pitch will eventually move to another location once a suitable spot is found where facilities for youth sport will also be built.

Mr Lee said the council supported the fundraiser but the committee would need to look for sponsorship for future tournaments.

He said: 'Now NNDC has ownership of Cabbell Park we have spent a lot of money on it. We have paid to resurface the pitch and put in new changing rooms. As a council we get lots of clubs come to us for charity events and unfortunately we have to draw a line somewhere. NNDC needs to look at what we can do to support charity.'

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