Football club cries foul over councillor’s fence worries

POPULAR ... The pitches at Hedworthfield.
POPULAR ... The pitches at Hedworthfield.

A ROW is brewing over plans by a football club to fence off pitches at a community centre in South Tyneside.

Jarrow Youth FC say they have raised issues over the safety of players because of dog fouling and animals being allowed to run free during matches at Hedworthfield Community Centre, in Cornhill, Jarrow, and that they were given the green light to apply for funding to pay for fencing around the pitches.

We are sick of having to clean up the mess that is being left behind and having dog owners allowing their dogs to run onto the pitch while the kids are training - even when matches are being played.

John Topping, Jarrow Youth FC

A grant application for £8,500 from the Football Foundation - some of which was used to pay for a container to store their equipment - was successful but they say they have been forced to put a halt to the plan after concerns were raised by local councillor, Coun Geraldine Kilgour.

Coun Kilgour says she is not against the plans of a fence being put up, but feels more consultation does need to be done before work can be started.

The club fear the scheme may not go ahead and the money will need to be repaid if work isn’t started by June.

Coun Kilgour fears the fencing will lead to the area being no longer accessible to the community, but the club says the fields will still be able to be accessed by a gate.

Club chairman John Topping said: “We were in constant talks with the community centre and South Tyneside Council prior to the funding bid and they had no objections to us going ahead and securing the funding. Now, they have received an objection to the fence being built, they have said we can’t go ahead with it.

“It has left the players and their families angered. The idea for the fence is to protect the kids while they are playing.

“We are sick of having to clean up the mess that is being left behind and we are having dog owners allowing their dogs just to run onto the pitch while the kids are training - even when matches are being played.

“Last season, we had one dog sink its teeth into the ball. That could have been a child’s leg.”

He added: “There will still be public access to the pitches by a gate as we know other groups like the archery club use the area as well as people going on there to fly kites.”

Coun Kilgour said: “I have no problem with securing or safeguarding the area for our children or the adults who play on there but we do need more consultation and a clearer idea of what it is they are putting forward.

“But what we need to do is to continue to ensure the fields are able to be accessed by all groups.”

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “The council is aware of this issue and is continuing to work with all stakeholders involved with a view to ensuring our green spaces and community facilities are open and accessible to all members of the community for their enjoyment.”

Jarrow Youth FC runs football for 26 teams from five-year-olds up to seniors and currently has more than 300 members who play regularly at the centre.