‘We WON’T move the goalposts’
Paper tweaked to save sports facilities
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?