Parks play hardball over softball


Charity softball players are preparing for a legal clash over having to pay to play sport in a royal park.

Lawyers for the London Charity Softball League (LCSL) are threatening to take action against The Royal Parks, the agency responsible for looking after London’s royal parks. The charity workers who turn up and play in the Old Football Pitches section of Hyde Park are calling for the fees, which were introduced in March, to be scrapped.

The Leigh Day law firm says it is today sending out a legal letter before action threatening Culture Secretary Maria Miller with formal proceedings if there is not a rethink about the fee for a community group to use the parks’ facilities.

The Royal Parks suggests the softball league fee “would be in the region of a pound per player, per match” and will help to maintain and improve the area.

A spokesman said: “As of March 2013, park users wishing to undertake formal sport ... have had to book and pay a small fee ... Any income generated goes back into maintaining and improving the area. The vast majority of Hyde Park remains open and free to access for informal games and sporting activity.

“The Royal Parks are popular locations for free outdoor fitness and well-being and are enjoyed by millions of visitors each year.”