Peterborough rugby club chair promises to boost community sports facilities after ‘secret’ council deal criticised
The chairman of a Peterborough rugby club has promised to improve facilities for local sports teams after agreeing a new lease for land at Bretton Park.
Andy Moore said that he will redecorate changing rooms targeted by anti-social behaviour and improve the playing facilities after Peterborough Lions Leisure CIC - which is not-for-profit - signed the five-year deal with Peterborough City Council.
Under the arrangement, the CIC will take on an extra sports pitch - which will be fenced off - next to land currently leased by the rugby club, as well as the running of the pavilion.
News of the amended contract has been criticised by members of Bretton Parish Council which believes there has been secrecy over the change in the lease, but this was rejected by Mr Moore who is chairman of Peterborough Lions RFC.
He said: “I’ve been asking the city council if I can take on a small piece of land adjacent to mine. That’s been going on for three to four years which parish councillors have been fully aware of.
“Last year, I wanted to address them but was asked not to because they couldn’t get a quorum for the meeting. I said, ‘ask me for the next one but they didn’t’.
“Over the last three years the council has not been able to look after the changing rooms. Various companies have taken them over, with budgets being tight, and less people have been using them.
“I will keep the changing rooms clean and decorate them. People are booking them and will pay the council to book them.
“I have a five year lease for one more pitch adjacent to the rugby club for additional sport use. The Peterborough American football ladies team will be using it, junior football clubs will be using it, and it will be fenced off so there’s no dog excrement.
“There is no detriment to the residents or people of Bretton. It’s better because the changing rooms will be looked after, an extra pitch will allow kids and adults to play sport in a safe manner, and it’s a small part of the field.
“I’ve done this for the benefit of sport for the local area and the benefit of the community.”
However, parish councillor Richard Strangward has criticised the new lease, believing it was agreed without wider consultation.
He said: “I believe this demonstrates a total lack of transparency on the part of the council.
“Clearly the issues they were experiencing were down to their own lack of spending and supervision making it a prime target to be hived off.”
A Peterborough City Council spokesperson said: “Since the attendants were removed as part of budget savings about three years ago we have seen a drastic decline in football teams using the facilities.
“This has been due to issues with glass and dog faeces left on the pitch and young children being potentially hurt. And some teams that were using the pavilion were both vandalising it and leaving it in an unfit state to use. As a result, we have had to separately pay for several deep cleans of the facility to bring it back to a usable standard.
“Over the years we have had to make several repairs to the building due to damage and have seen the teams move away from the park which is not what we want, as we want to see sports flourish in Bretton Park.
“The team that was using the children’s size pitch wanted to remain at Bretton Park as they are locally-based but it was the safety concerns that they had issues with. As such the Lions Leisure CIC agreed to pay for a small bow top fencing area to extend to their existing lease to allow football to be played safely.
“They are also now working with the club to expand this further into a women’s team and walking football.
“When we book teams to play football at Bretton Park (the CIC) will manage the changing rooms to ensure all teams get access and they are kept clean. They have also in the past redecorated these for PCC free of charge.
“The section that has been added to their lease is a small section in line with the water park so this does not intrude on the rest of the open space and still leaves the vast majority of the park open for normal use and was put in place to allow for safe use for children in the park and further increase participation.”
Mr Moore said he is holding a socially distanced open meeting at the rugby club on Wednesday at 6pm where he will give a presentation and answer questions.