SWINDON Supermarine sports and social could avoid a £10,000 council planning bill for plans to upgrade its facilities – by changing its registration status.
Swindon Council has said the thriving multi-sports ground will have to fund the ambitious upgrade, despite being run by its members on a not-for-profit basis.
Time is running out because under rules laid down by Hellenic League, in which New College, one of the teams who plays at the ground competes, the site requires 50 seats and a pitch-side cover by March 31.
Other upgrades include additional floodlights, an extension to the changing rooms and a canvas dome, which will cover pitches to provide training rain or shine.
The improvements at the 34-acre South Marston site would be a massive boost for the town, providing first-rate facilities for dozens of adult and youth teams.
The club is run by volunteers but they formed a limited company on the basis of legal advice from the main sports bodies – and to all other purposes is a charity.
An application has been put forward to gain Community Amateur Sports Club (casc) status, which includes a range of tax exemptions and financial benefits.
Dave Webb, company secretary, said: “The plans are being treated as a commercial application, but we are not a commercial operation, effectively we are a charity. The only difference to how we were before is that we have put ‘limited’ on the end of our name, and we are only limited by guarantee.”
The CASC scheme was introduced in 2002 and has enabled many local amateur sports clubs to register with HM Revenue and Customs.
Benefits include members paying reduced business rates and claiming 28p for every pound of Gift Aid donations.
The club believes registration would also mean it will avoid having to fork out for some or all of the bill.
A spokesman for the council said he believed the local authority would be bound by whatever tax exemption rules applied to CASC status, but the HMRC would be best placed to comment on the size of the discount.
A spokeswoman for the HMRC said: “We are not allowed to comment on individual businesses or taxpayers.”
This week the Adver reported how the plans mark a crucial point for a dedicated team of volunteers who have turned the club round over the past 11 years.
But under Government rules, planning applications attract a fee worked out by the size of the development area, and the council is bound by law to impose the charge on the club.