Councillors hit out at ‘appalling’ Moray football pitch report

Deanshaugh pitches caused a row in the Council chamber on Wednesday.
Deanshaugh pitches caused a row in the Council chamber on Wednesday.

MORAY COUNCILLORS HAVE REFUSED to sanction a report on the controversial Deanshaugh football pitches in Elgin that have been out of use for over ten years.

As reported earlier this week, members of the children and young people’s services committee were presented with the report that recommended no application is made for funding to create a pavilion at the troubled pitches.

Reinstatement of the playing fields has been going on for several years as part of works associated with the Elgin flood alleviation scheme – and as a result three full-size pitches and a training pitch have been created, along with an elevated car park and viewing area.

However, the project has been troubled from the start – with no clear sign that they will be playable even by their target date next August.

Promises have consistently been made to the local community, who have campaigned for around ten years to have their pitches restored – so the suggestion in the paper to the committee that the pitches were ‘not required’ sparked a furious response in the chamber, most notably from local representatives.

One local councillor event went as far as to say the report placed before the committee was “simply appalling”, in particular the suggestion that the pitches were not actually required – despite, according to members, quite clear evidence to the contrary.

While not a member of the committee, Elgin SNP Councillor Patsy Gowans was allowed to address the meeting. She said: “My understanding as an elected member over the last four years is that much money has been spent on repairing the pitches to a very high standard – that was because they are badly needed. That was why a sports specialist sub-contractor was brought in, and we Elgin councillors have from time to time visited the site.

“That is the message I’ve been receiving in my time as a Councillor, that Deanshaugh had to be reinstated for football pitches due to the need for it. Over the last six weeks we Elgin councillors have received many emails from parents about the need for football pitches in Elgin, because parents are having to take their children elsewhere to play football.”

Councillor Mike Shand went further in attacking the report, saying it clearly went against everything that had been promised to the local community – and he challenged the statement that there was ‘little demand’ for the pitches.

Cllr Shand said: “The report has ‘anticipated there will be very little demand’ – saying later on that discussions are held with local sports organisations in order to encourage wider use.

“Did we ever go out and ask any of them? Fairly obviously, no we did not – we did not talk to anyone like that, the report is like looking into a crystal ball. This is an appalling report.”

Following similar representations from other members of the committee, it was agreed that a further report should be placed before the next meeting of the Full Council covering all aspects of the Deanshaugh project.

We are almost there! – so please keep backing insideMoray’s bid to continue providing its Community News service in 2017 – visit our Crowdfunding Page for details.