The Knaresborough Players have hit back at criticism made of the Frazer Theatre for penalising people who have parked on their land.
Last week the Knaresborough Post reported that residents were being chased through the courts for thousands of pounds after receiving parking penalties from a company employed on behalf of the theatre.
The Players have not permitted parking on their land since 2009 when they introduced restrictions after ‘dumped’ cars were blocking access during extension work on the theatre.
But the theatre was criticised for upholding the restrictions, with residents claiming the now private land had been gifted to them by the community.
However The Players’ Chairman, David Crosthwaite explained this was not the case.
He said: ‘First of all, we need to correct the myth that the Frazer was a gift to the Knaresborough Players."
Mr Crosthwaite explained the theatre was bought by local businessman Frederick Frazer in the 1960s who began leasing the venue to the Knaresborough Players in 1965.
After Mr Frazer’s death, the theatre was named in his memory, but in 1980 The Players were told they could no longer pay just a nominal rent.
Mr Crosthwaite said: “The Players were then faced with a choice, raise the asking price and buy the theatre outright, pay a market rent, or leave.
"The last two options were swiftly discounted, and the Players embarked on a year of frantic fundraising. In May 1981, the deeds were signed and the Players became the owners of the Frazer and its land.
“Of course the Players remain immensely grateful to Knaresborough Town Council, the Lions and local businesses which supported our campaign from 2004 to 2008 to extend the Frazer.”
However, Mr Crosthwaite highlighted that all fundraising efforts were “directed towards transforming the Frazer into a venue fit for the 21 st century”.
He said: “In the light of all this effort and achievement by a group of dedicated unpaid volunteers over many years, it is disheartening to find that the only focus on the Frazer Theatre held by a few people seems to be its potential as a place to park cars.
“The Players decided to introduce parking management on our land 8 years ago during the extension works. Neither the Players nor our neighbours at Knaresborough Bowling Club and Orb Community Arts wanted to return to past experiences of regular obstruction, so controls have remained.”
Residents and traders also complained that warning signs about parking at the theatre are not eye-level.
But Mr Crosthwaite said: “Permits are issued as appropriate to support the activities of all three charitable organisations. Warning signs, which are clearly visible, have had to be erected at height following deliberate vandalism.
"If there are valid grounds, the Players would be prepared to communicate with the parking company to try to help achieve a settlement.