A LEGAL battle is brewing in Dinnington over who owns the dilapidated Miners’ Welfare Institute.
New information came to light at a packed public meeting at the Lyric Theatre on Monday night, which suggests it may still belong to the ex-miners.
The site, off Lodge Lane, comprises a large area of green playing fields, a derelict club house and disused tennis courts and bowling greens.
A campaign group was set up last month to try and save the land from development after plans for a housing estate came to light.
Now, the Friends of Dinnington Miners’ Welfare claim the land was wrongfully obtained by current owners the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO), who they say failed to track down the original trustees.
David Smith, chairman of the Friends of Dinnington Miners’ Welfare, was president of Dinnington National Union of Miners until he retired in 1987.
He has just discovered that he is still named as a trustee of the Miners’ Welfare Institute, along with two other former miners.
“Denis Langton, David Smith and Leslie Ellis are still named as trustees and there is no record of these individuals ever having been replaced by any other trustees,” said Mr Smith.
“Rotherham Borough Council were the last people to lease the site and when their lease expired, CISWO said they could not find any of the trustees, so the land was signed over to them.”
“Well I’m on the electoral register, I pay all my dues and fees, Leslie has lived in the same house for 50 years, so why couldn’t they find us?”
“CISWO has stolen the Miners’ Welfare from us.”
“As far as I’m concerned the Dinnington Miners’ Welfare should belong to us, the people of Dinnington.”
The meeting also heard from Mr Roland Bolton from DLP Planning Consultants who was representing CISWO.
He told Mr Smith: “If you can prove that the people named as trustees are alive and living in Dinnington and CISWO didn’t try hard enough that will help the process along.”
He said the matter would then be handed over to lawyers.
But spokesperson for the Friends group Val Tatum said they did not yet have that kind of money.
“We are gathering funds as best we can but we have only just started out as a group,” she said.
“Nevertheless, we will fight for this land which is rightfully ours.”
“Our aim is still to prove that morally and legally the trustees own the right to the Welfare.”