A “battleworn” Dunedin pony club is seeking a new home.
Saddleview Pony Club president Louise Lawrence, vice-president and head coach Kathy Fuller and treasurer Nicki Howie spoke during the public forum at the Saddle Hill Community Board meeting last week.
Ms Lawrence said the club wanted the board’s help to find a new home.
The club had shared grounds with Dunedin Riding for the Disabled in Flower St, Fairfield, but parted ways on Waitangi Day.
Ms Lawrence said the legal battle had been “ongoing and costly”.
“We look back with some bitterness but now we are looking forward,” Ms Lawrence said.
“We are battleworn,” Mrs Fuller said.
The club had been “forced” to make “the difficult and sad decision to surrender” its licence to occupy the land, which was due for renewal.
Mrs Fuller said the club wanted the board members to lobby the Dunedin City Council for use of some of its “reserve land” so the club could resume its operation.
The club had a list of possible options, including Beachlands Speedway in Waldronville.
Board chairman Scott Weatherall said the council-owned land at the speedway was the option which “jumped out” at him.
“It [the land] is dry and it’s not used a huge amount.”
Cr Conrad Stedman asked if the club was given use of council-owned land, would they “look after it, care for it and treat it as your own?”.
Mrs Howie said the club wanted the use of the land “long-term” so the club could develop it.
Mr Weatherall asked council parks and recreation acting group manager Robert West if he could meet the three club members and Mr West agreed.’
After the meeting, the women told The Star the club’s membership had fallen to about 20 since the “conflict” with Dunedin RDA began.
“Everyone gets sick of being involved in the conflict.”
Dunedin RDA president Gary Cole said the settlement with the club included Dunedin RDA buying the club’s three buildings on the grounds for $9000.
RDA paid the club another $1000 to end all claims by the club.
The relationship with the club “has rarely been harmonious even since the very early days”, Mr Cole said.
“Continuing the licence with an unco-operative licensee is an unwanted distraction and it is certainly not in the best interests of our community service.
“RDA are very pleased that the relationship is now at an end.”
THE STORY SO FAR
History of Saddleview Pony Club and Dunedin Riding for the Disabled
1976: Fernhill Pony Club founded at grounds in Abbotsford.
1994: Riding for the Disabled Dunedin buys grounds in Flower St, Fairfield.
1997: Pony club signs 20-year deed of licence with Dunedin RDA to use the grounds.
2009: Club renamed Saddleview Pony Club.
February 6, 2018: Out-of-court settlement reached after legal mediation about the renewal of the licence, due to expire in August 2018. Club surrenders its licence and leaves Flower St.
February 7, 2018: Dunedin RDA pay $10,000 settlement to the club.
February 15, 2018: Club members approach Saddle Hill Community Board for help to find new grounds.