The national anthem will not be played at Scarborough Rugby Club this weekend despite council bosses giving it the go-ahead.
Scarborough Council came under fire when it emerged the club’s first international game on Sunday requires the playing of the patriotic song.
But due to council planning restrictions, which ban amplified music and jingles from being played, the ground will fall silent, as club bosses say they are not willing to risk breaking the rules.
Earlier this week, the authority invited the Silver Royd-based club to apply for a special dispensation to allow God Save The Queen to be played.
The club made a request on Tuesday, but yesterday it was told formal approval could not be given under planning rules.
However area planning manager, Nick Read, said the council would not take any action if the national anthem was played on Sunday.
In a letter to the club, he said: “As you are aware, in the absence of a condition discharge application, the council is not able to give formal approval to the use of outdoor amplified music.
“However, if an application had been received immediately prior to the kick-off of the match on Sunday, I anticipate permission would have been granted. The council has no wish to prevent the playing of the national anthems in these circumstances and I can advise you that if they were played, the council would not seek to take any action under the terms of the planning condition.”
Andy Skelton, the council’s director of service delivery, stressed a ban had never been in place.
He said: “I think we need to make it clear again that the council has not taken any action to restrict the playing of the national anthems and as soon as we became aware of the club’s concerns we acted swiftly in consultation with elected members to give the club a written reassurance that it could play the national anthems. We are very disappointed the club has now decided not to play the national anthems and continues to hold the council responsible for this, despite the fact that we have made it quite clear that it can do so.”
The authority’s leader, Cllr Tom Fox, added: “I am disappointed that the club has tried to use the emotive issue of the national anthems to raise the profile of its on-going planning debate with the council. The council is clear that it does not wish to prevent the playing of the national anthems at an international sporting event, indeed we would be surprised if they were not played. The choice lies with the club and we have made it quite clear that we have no objections.”
The club has been battling for more than two years for the right to play music at games after councillors chose to ignore planning advice and amend a key licensing clause. A public inquiry scheduled for June 6 is expected to finally bring an end to the long-running noise spat.
Playing anthems is too risky
The chief executive of Scarborough Rugby Club, Graeme Young, said: “We appreciate the work of the council planning officers, who have made strenuous efforts to find a solution which would allow the playing of the national anthems this Sunday.
“The officers played no part in the current ban on all outside amplified music which was imposed entirely by the elected planning Councillors following two separate applications.
“If the officers are in a position to give consent they should do so under the delegated powers vested in them.
“The lack of this consent suggests that some members of the planning committee do not support the course of action proposed.
“We cannot and will not take the risk so close to a public enquiry. This is a sad day for Scarborough sport.”