‘We WON’T move the goal­posts’

Pa­per tweaked to save sports fa­cil­i­ties

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Paul Cargill

Coun­cil­lors have pre­vented more goal­posts be­ing pulled down on out­door play­ing pitches across Perth and Kin­ross.

A new pol­icy on the coun­cil’s pro­vi­sion of out­door pitch sports would have seen at least four sets of goal­posts pulled down if it had been im­ple­mented just as of­fi­cials had rec­om­mended at a meet­ing last week.

In­stead, of­fi­cials were told in no un­cer­tain terms that the goal­posts in ques­tion should stay up and that rather than rec­om­mend­ing goal­posts be taken down they should be look­ing to put more goal­posts up to en­cour­age younger play­ers in the fu­ture.

The coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­ment, en­ter­prise and in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee was asked to ap­prove a pol­icy last Wed­nes­day to re­clas­sify pitches not cur­rently be­ing used by reg­is­tered teams for matches as “train­ing ar­eas” so that en­vi­ron­ment work­ers would only have to cut the grass to main­tain the grounds.

A pa­per ac­com­pa­ny­ing the pol­icy ex­plained four full-sized match pitches would au­to­mat­i­cally be re­clas­si­fied as “train­ing pitches” au­tho­ris­ing of­fi­cials to take down goal­posts at those lo­ca­tions if coun­cil­lors agreed to im­ple­ment it.

High­land coun­cil­lor Mike Williamson was first to tackle of­fi­cers on the pol­icy, ask­ing if lo­cal foot­ball teams or com­mu­nity groups had been con­sulted on it.

The coun­cil’s com­mu­nity greenspace team leader, Andy Clegg, replied it was his depart­ment’s in­ten­tion to speak to clubs and com­mu­nity groups about how the new pol­icy might af­fect them once the com­mit­tee had ap­proved it.

Cllr Williamson re­marked this made the coun­cil ap­pear to be “dic­ta­to­rial” and went on to re­veal he knew of­fi­cials were al­ready seek­ing to take down a set of goal­posts in the Blair Atholl area as if the pol­icy had al­ready been im­ple­mented, a sit­u­a­tion he de­scribed as “to­tally un­fair”.

Carse of Gowrie coun­cil­lor An­gus Forbes then ques­tioned the tac­tics be­ing used by the coun­cil to pur­sue teams who ac­cord­ing to the pa­per have been us­ing match pitches across Perth and Kin­ross but not pay­ing fees.

He wanted to know why a spe­cial “part­ner­ship group” was be­ing set up to en­sure all teams us­ing pitches were reg­is­tered, to which Mr Clegg replied it was dif­fi­cult to keep tabs on teams play­ing “out in the sticks”.

Re­act­ing to that re­mark Cllr Grant Laing said the prob­lem was that peo­ple “out in the sticks” has Mr Clegg put it “had no sticks”, point­ing out places like Al­mond­bank and Bank­foot had nowhere for young play­ers to go for a kick­about.

And Cllr Bob Band seemed per­plexed as to why of­fi­cials were not al­ready pur­su­ing clubs known to be avoid­ing reg­is­ter­ing all their teams to avoid pay­ing fees.

“What ev­i­dence do we have that there are un­reg­is­tered teams play­ing?” he asked. “Who are they play­ing against? Why are they not be­ing pur­sued?”

Mr Clegg replied there was only “anec­do­tal” ev­i­dence to sug­gest this was hap­pen­ing and the coun­cil was un­able to pur­sue rogue teams for pitch fees as no-one was avail­able to check who was play­ing on pitches on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing.

Point­ing to the rel­a­tively small amount of money it would cost to keep the goal­posts which would be re­moved un­der the pol­icy in place Cllr Wil­lie Robert­son then sug­gested the coun­cil re­con­sider its po­si­tion.

And Cllr Laing ar­gued the coun­cil should be pro­vid­ing more goal­posts on play­ing ar­eas, not fewer, es­pe­cially at lo­ca­tions where groups were al­ready clam­our­ing to have goal­posts re­in­stated.

“We should be work­ing with them if they are will­ing to fund goal­posts,” he said.

Bring­ing the de­bate on the pa­per and the pol­icy to a close Cllr Colin Ste­wart, the con­vener of the com­mit­tee, moved the pa­per with amend­ments stat­ing the goal­posts that had been dis­cussed would be re­tained and rec­om­mend­ing the coun­cil make more of an ef­fort to re­in­state goal­posts on other play­ing fields as well.

Cllr Grant Laing thanked Cllr Ste­wart for his in­ter­ven­tion.

Two of the pitches in ques­tion were in what was de­scribed in the com­mit­tee pa­pers as the Perth Land­ward ‘clus­ter’, with the oth­ers in the Carse of Gowrie and Cri­eff.

What ev­i­dence do we have that there are un­reg­is­tered teams play­ing?

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