Junior football club runs into pitch problems after school earmarked for demolition

Whiteleas Juniors FC, who are to lose their pitch at the former Temple Park Junior School, which is to be demoilished.
Whiteleas Juniors FC, who are to lose their pitch at the former Temple Park Junior School, which is to be demoilished.

A children’s soccer club and South Tyneside Council have taken different sides in a clash over the future venue of matches.

Bosses at Whiteleas Juniors Football Club claim they have been forced to leave their ground of 25 years under land development plans.

They have played on fields in the grounds of Temple Park Junior School, in Manet Gardens, which is set for demolition, since the early 1990s.

The club says it has had to find a new home after the council failed to give assurances that games could continue after the school is pulled down.

However, council chiefs have strongly dismissed the claims, saying the club has not been asked to move and is welcome to continue playing there.

Grandmother Julie Hogg, 52, of Sandalwood, Holder House Estate, Whiteleas, who organises the club’s teams, said dialogue with the council could not be opened.

She added: “We are devastated at having to move and disappointed that the council did not help us in any way.

“They said they would speak to us but that didn’t happen, and all our efforts to contact them failed.

“The only message we had was to ask us to move any stuff we had in a container on the site.”

Julie added: “We will now play our games at Brinkburn, which actually has better facilities, but that’s not the point.

“We want be to be in Whiteleas, we want to stay somewhere on the estate.

“We had tried to find somewhere else in that area to play, but no one was interested in helping. We want to get back there one day.”

In a statement, the council denied the club had been requested to move.

A spokesman said: “At no stage has the football club been asked to stop playing on these pitches.

“The club is welcome to continue using the pitches as normal.”

In January council planners gave the go-ahead for the derelict school to be demolished.

At the time, the football club said the decision had taken them by surprise, claim it had not been alerted to the plan.

But the council said the proposal had been adequately publicised, including a site notice being installed, and that legal planning obligations had been met.

It says the school building is surplus to requirements, in a poor state of repair and targeted by vandals.

Post-demolition, the land is expected to be restored and levelled by adding top soil and grass.