MORAY COUNCIL HAVE been blasted by Elgin City Chairman Graham Tatters who has pointed the finger firmly in their direction over the loss of a £100,000 SFA grant intended to boost Community Football in Moray.
The cash boost was awarded to Elgin five years ago by sportscotland in conjunction with the SFA and was intended to boost community football facilities in the Elgin area – but ended up being withdraw last week after Moray Council had failed to agree a plan put forward or to come up with any alternative.
Now Mr Tatters, who put a detailed proposal to Moray Council, has hit out at the local authority and in particular its convener, Councillor Allan Wright, who had insisted just weeks ago that the funding remained safe.
Elgin City have been heavily involved in promoting community football in Moray but, along with other sports clubs around Elgin, had found it difficult in recent years to find suitable pitches because of the flood alleviation works. The problem was then further exasperated when the facility at Lossiemouth playing fields was also withdrawn.
The City boss said: “There was a floodlit facility at Lossiemouth that had been overused, so quite rightly Moray Council put it out of bounds, so we lost the floodlit facility for our community football – everyone needs to understand this was not Elgin City FC but the community part of Elgin City.
“They had finished the flood alleviation scheme so we thought, let’s see what we can do with Lesser Borough Briggs, it is good land that should be a football pitch anyway. So we put a gate at the side of our fence, mounted some lights at a cost of £1500 and marked up a pitch.
“That could be used during the day and very limited at night, the lighting we put up was not that good as what we put in place was as cheap as we could.”
Mr Tatters said that an application was then put through to Moray Council for the sportscotland cash to be used to place permanent floodlighting at Lesser Borough Briggs. He added: “Initially they thought that a great idea, we obtained an estimate at around £67,000 that would have left money for possibly fencing the pitch off.
“Then we found out that under their ten-year plan the Council were going to put housing there – in the middle of a flood plain. Not only are they going to put them on Lesser Borough Briggs but they also want to put them on the main car park to try and increase the footfall on the High Street.”
The City boss was so angered by a situation where the Council were looking to remove parking in Elgin in order to increase footfall that he contacted the Council Convener.
He added: “I was very disappointed with the response from Allan Wright, the convener, who came back to me and rather sarcastically said the money was not yours nor mine, it has to be spent by the SFA.
“I rang him up and told him I understood that but I was trying to use the money because there was a good chance that we would lose it, but he said no, we’ve had it for four years, it is very unlikely that we will lose that money, we will be able to sort something out.
“But of course we have now lost the money, which I’m really upset about – we had a plan, it was well laid out, the community could use it, we could monitor it – we would have taken care of the pitch, the idea was well supported by the SFA – but now it’s all gone.”
Moray Council insist that while the £100,000 has been withdraw they understand that the SFA would look favourably on any new proposals. A spokesman said: “Unfortunately no single project we considered matched the funding requirements from the various bodies involved. However, it is clear from the letter we received from sportscotland that they would be keen to consider a new request from Moray and so we feel that the door remains open for any future project.”
Last month insideMoray reported on the major issues still appearing to be experienced at Deanshaugh, a year after promises were made that the pitches there – which have not been in use since 2005 – would be restored to ‘SFA Standard’.