Moreton-in-Marsh’s civic chiefs have been accused of keeping townsfolk in the dark about their controversial proposal that could result in the loss of a popular football pitch and the relocation of some of the town’s historic allotments, a meeting heard.

A packed public gallery heard the Moreton Town Council estate management committee meeting debate a proposal to move Croft Allotments from their Evenlode Road site to a plot adjacent to the Top Cemetery, on London Road, which Moreton Rangers Football Club uses, often as a training pitch for its youth teams.

The meeting was told this would free up the Croft site to be used for other purposes - possibly as a car park - but the number of allotments would not be reduced.

‘There is anger,’ said allotments representative Terry Platten, while formally registering opposition to the proposal on behalf of the Croft’s tenants.

‘Not only has there been a lack of openness on the part of the town council but also a high degree of secrecy involved in committee meetings, to the extent that I have now lost confidence in the town council to protect the heritage of the town.’

A petition has been launched by Sophie Wise, to prevent the allotments being built and it currently has almost 700 signatures.

Chairman of Moreton Rangers FC Martin Lewis said: "The football club is disappointed that the town council is considering this plan as we will lose a mini soccer pitch and we would have to look for somewhere else."

Committee chairman, Councillor Michael Lucas, said a large car park was needed to improve parking in the town but details of the proposals could not yet be published because they were ‘commercially sensitive’.

Talking about the allotments, he said: ‘A current proposal, subject to consultation and ratification by the council, is to relocate those at Croft to one or more other sites so the land at Croft can be used in due course for other purposes beneficial to the town.

‘It should be clearly noted that no final decisions will be taken until the necessary consultations with stakeholders have been undertaken.’