Medway Council has reluctantly written to Gillingham Football Club to say it must leave its training ground for failing to pay for its use, or for gas, water or electricity bills.

The club has used Beechings Cross, in Gillingham, for around ten years.
But it has not paid all of the charge for using the site or utility bills since 2008 and owes more than £34,000. (as of 30 April this year)

Now the council has been left with no option but to write to The Gills to say it is trespassing and that it must hand back the keys by Friday 6th July.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “The money owed is not a small figure, and it is public money provided by the taxpayer. It would not be right, or fair to taxpayers or those that pay their rent, to ignore this.”

Medway Council initially wrote to The Gills in June last year about the money it owed and when it heard nothing contacted them again and was told it would be paid.
But, despite these reassurances, the money was not paid and the club has failed to talk to the council about this since.

A further letter was sent in April this year stating The Gills must pay the money by the end of that month and that it must agree to a new lease – as it has refused to do so since it ran out four years ago – by 1 June or leave by the end of that month.
Now the council has written to Gillingham FC to say it must leave immediately and if it hasn’t handed back the keys by 4pm on Friday (6 July) legal proceedings will start.
The letter also states that the council considers the club’s continued use and occupation of the land since the end of June to be ‘without permission’ and that ‘the council now considers Gillingham Football Club as trespassers’.

Medway Council rents numerous properties to organisations and businesses across the area and fully understands that, from time to time, they may find themselves in financial difficulty – particular in the current economic climate.

But other organisations do speak to the council when they find themselves in such a situation allowing the authority to help them find a way through.

Cllr Jarrett added: “As a local council, we work with local organisations and businesses and help them if they find it difficult to pay rent they owe the authority.
“It is a shame that it has come to this. The Gills is an important part of the community and we are keen to support our local team so we have tried as hard as we can to negotiate with the club and find a way through, but they have failed to talk to us.

“Now, as all our efforts have been ignored, we have to evict them from the ground.”
Medway Council will continue to seek to recoup the outstanding amount following Gillingham FC’s departure from Beechings Cross.