Defeat in pitch battle

The on-going row over where a village side should build a £275,000 all-weather training pitch is over - with a devastating impact on the area’s young football players.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 4th January 2014, 12:38 pm
The Holman's Field option
The Holman's Field option

Eaton Bray Lions has called time on the scheme after failing to win the majority backing of the parish council.

A recent poll, to gauge views on its location in the village, not only split residents but also their councillors.

After a crunch vote last month, the parish council narrowly dropped its support for the original location, at The Rye, but said it may back a second option to develop Holman’s Field at the rear of School Lane.

But yet another delay has proved too much for the football club which has nearly 300 young players on its books.

In a statement from the club they say: “We are very saddened to report that the parish council, in the face of a small but vocal group of ‘Nimbies’ have wavered on supporting the entire project and have effectively ‘kicked the project into the long grass’.

“There is effectively no reasonable prospect of securing their support, which we need to both submit a planning application and also have an operating agreement which would work.

“All of these decisions were taken in the face of the public consultation, which the PC insisted upon, producing a majority in favour of BOTH sites. “So having made us jump through hoops they then ignore the inconvenient results.

“Therefore, despite being granted planning permission at the Rye and winning a majority in the public consultation, neither of the proposed projects will now go ahead.

“We feel that there is no realistic prospect of finding a new site and starting the whole process again.

“With a heavy heart we have therefore decided to close the project and reluctantly accepted that this now will not happen.

“A minority of the parish council have been hugely supportive of what we were proposing. However, with the change of composition of the parish council, the majority have been against this and without their clear support it is now dead as a viable project.

“The practical result of this decision for the club may mean a reduction in the number of teams due to a lack of playing surfaces, which means less children in our villages playing sport and the loss of a fantastic facility for future generations.”

The Lions have spent years trying to improve village amenities and its training facilities by building a pitch but they have been thwarted by residents fiercely opposed to using part of the village green at The Rye for the purpose.

Last year they punted in a second option of developing one of their existing playing areas at Holman’s Field.

To answer criticism about unfair play a poll was circulated throughout the village and beyond asking whether there was support for a pitch and, if so, which one.

Of more than 2,000 electors in Eaton Bray there were 289 responses with the majority in favour of a pitch off School Lane.

Nearly 100 people from Edlesborough and nearby towns/villages, also voted with most supporting The Rye.