Village sports area may have to close

Mark Reed (left) and Paul Hayhurst survey the fence around the Multi-use games area
Mark Reed (left) and Paul Hayhurst survey the fence around the Multi-use games area
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A VILLAGE’S only sports pitch is facing closure after it fell dangerously into disrepair.

Elswick Parish Council is now pinning its hopes on grant funding to save the popular multi-use games area (MUGA) – or face telling local football, netball and tennis players they have nowhere to go.

The fence surrounding the 17-year-old playing area has been declared a health and safety hazard, and despite the parish council pledging £20,000 of its own funds toward repairing it and a £5,000 grant from the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP), the council desperately need a further £20,000 grant from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund.

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Coun Paul Hayhurst said: “It’s extremely popular, and our difficulty is in the rural area we don’t have any buses after 7pm and it’s the only facility in a six-mile radius.

“If it was to close people who play football, netball and tennis would have no where to go.

“The support from the LSP demonstrates how crucial this facility is to the rural areas of the borough.

“It will be a major boost in our application to Sport England.”

As it stands, although tennis players will be able to use the MUGA during the summer months it will close in the Autumn, before the start of the football season, as it is no longer safe for high impact sports.

The MUGA is used by tennis, football and netball clubs, as well as local youngsters who hire it when it is not in official use.

Inspired Facilities grants are available to pay for refurbishments during the Olympic year, and Coun Hayhurst hopes to know by mid-summer whether the council’s application has been successful.

He added: “The fence is in such bad condition there are wires sticking out and the pitch will have to close if we’re not successful.

“It is vital to the community it remains open.”

If the bid - which is also being supported by neighbouring parish councils - is successful, it is hoped work on repairs can begin in September.