A VILLAGE cricket club is caught up in the middle of an access wrangle at Middlesbrough football club's Hurworth training ground.

Rockliffe Park cricket club faces being unable to get cars into its own ground unless the football club reaches a solution with the Hospitalier Order of St John of God.

Mr John Gent, cricket club secretary, got in touch with Hurworth Parish Council when he read that work would start soon on the closure of the junction of Rockliffe Court Road and Rockcliffe Hall Drive.

The closure was a planning condition put on the football club by Darlington Borough Council, and the parish council is keen to see it done.

He explained at Monday's meeting that work had not been carried out until now because of problems over a strip of land.

The cricket club entered into a 99-year-lease of the cricket ground in 1995 with St John of God. A clause provided access from Rockliffe Court Road into Rockcliffe Hall Drive, with a right of access strip from the junction to its own entrance gates.

If the junction was sealed, the club would have no vehicular access, as it had no right to drive along the football club's private road.

"That is the simple situation," he told the council. "Attempts to achieve a satisfactory solution have taken place and indeed are still going on between the order and Middlesbrough FC. We are jut sitting in the middle."

Coun Clive Bullock commented: "If the football club wanted to be good neighbours, it could allow access. Obviously the planning committee didn't know the proper situation when they imposed conditions."

"Would the football club as good neighbours not allow you to share its access?" asked Coun Peter Foster.

"It is possible, if they felt that way," replied Mr Gent. "But it is not really a viable alternative from anyone's point of view. It is acceptable but not ideal.

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