A community has been left ‘in limbo’ and unable to use a sports facility due to a dispute over an electricity bill.

Beaminster Walking Football Club plays at 1610 Beaminster Sports and Leisure’s all-weather pitch once-a-week, but a member says that an alleged dispute with a local school has meant they have not been able to play since November.

The walking football club, which has been running for four years, is a popular group for those aged over 50 and has about 30 members ranging from ages 53 to 76. It is just one of several clubs and community groups that regularly use the pitches.

Paul Evans helps organise the group. He said: “In the middle of November we thought the floodlights were not working and assumed it was a one-off. Then we found out they were unavailable and we thought ‘what’s going on?’ It went on for ages before I found there was problem with Mountjoy School. For some reason, the electricity for the pitches goes through the school and it has to give permission for the floodlights to be on and off.

“Every month we pay in advance, so we would just like some answers. We’re a group of elderly and retired chaps and walking football keeps us fit. For us, it’s lovely to be involved in a team sport again and we all love playing football like we did in our 20s; it’s very frustrating.”

Mr Evans says he has been in regular contact with 1610 since the problem arose.

“They have said that they have had many meetings with Mountjoy School but have not yet been able to give me any positive update on when this dispute will be settled,” said Mr Evans. “We would just like some answers. We’re in limbo.”

Mountjoy School’s headteacher Jackie Shanks said the school was not involved in the running of the pitch, but the meter for the lights is attached to the school’s electric.

“The arrangement is that when an organisation uses the lights, 1610 pay us for their use,” said Ms Shanks. “We know that the pitch is an important asset to the community and the lights are charged at considerably less than the published hire rate. “There have been occasions where the lights have been left on overnight, which is not only bad for the environment but also leaves our school with a bigger electricity bill.

“We have discussed the matter with 1610 and are waiting for a system from them that allows us to know the exact usage of the lights so that our school and our pupils are not financially disadvantaged.”

A spokesman for 1610 said: “1610 is unable to offer sports sessions at the 3G pitches in the evenings at 1610 Beaminster Sports and Leisure as the floodlights needed to light the area for the safety of the players are currently unavailable for us to use.”