Sports pitches falling into disrepair after cuts, say critics

Kew Park Rangers: Angry about pitches

Kew Park Rangers: Angry about pitches

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Sports pitches in the borough have been allowed to deteriorate in the past year, critics have said.

Since Richmond Council slashed its parks budget by £484,000, some sports groups have claimed pitch conditions were not up to scratch.

The apparent lack of maintenance, according to some users, started when the new partnership with Continental Landscapes, which won the council’s out-sourced park maintenance contract, started work in April 2013.

Councillor Jean-Francois Burford, Liberal Democrat sports spokesman and chairman of youth football club Kew Park Rangers, said: “The Tories claimed that cutting the parks budget last year by almost half a million pounds wouldn’t result in any loss of service, but that is plainly nonsense. We have seen the condition of pitches seriously deteriorate.

“There are thousands of children and young people who take part in junior sport every weekend across the borough and they need properly maintained facilities at affordable prices.

“We need to promote sport and the good health benefits that it brings to our young people, not show them that the council simply doesn’t care.”

Alex Duncan, fixture manager for Kew Park Rangers, said: “At the beginning of the season, our pitches were unfit for use, which then required a lot of maintenance during the season.

“We need to be starting off with fit pitches that have been properly prepared, seeded and, most importantly, spiked.”

The council also mistakenly told all sports groups they would have to make all payments up front, but later retracted this.

The council said it had a problem with late payment for bookings, with more than 30 per cent of payments for pitch bookings 90 days late or longer.

The council said it would charge one-off users up front but regular users could block book their time on the pitches.

Councillor Gareth Evans, cabinet member for community, said: “There has been an issue with late payment for use of our sports pitches and we are doing all we can to prevent taxpayers fitting the bill for use of our pitches.

“For regular users and sports clubs like Kew Park Rangers we will allow them to block book for the whole season.

“We want to promote further and nurture participation in sport.”

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