The Bickerstaffe Record

Being Labour, Cotterill on the Council, Leisure and culture

Another day, another Tory failure: this times it’s football

06.18.10 | Comment?

The Skelmersdale Advertiser this week carries the story of organisers of a new U16 and U18 boys’ football league being denied the chance to get it going because the Tory council won’t give them pitch space.  As one of the organiser says:

I think it’s despicable that 16-year-old lads from Skelmersdale can’t play football in their own town.

The council gives a wholly evasive reply, saying that allocations have not yet been made, but certainly not denying the assertion that the new league will be denied the playing space they need.

The reason the embattled council spokesperson needs to be so evasive is simple: the Tory administration has once again failed to take responsibility, and once again failed the young people of West Lancashire.

‘How so?’ I hear you ask.

Well, mostly because they should have been focusing on providing more pitches and changing facilities, in keeping with their new Open Space Strategy, which says, inter alia:

there is a minor oversupply of adult football pitches at peak time (Sunday AM) equal to 0.5 football pitches

there is a significant shortfall of junior football pitches at peak time (Sunday AM) of 28.2 pitches

mini football usage is also a Sunday morning activity. There is currently an undersupply of 4.1 pitches

And a key reason it’s not dealt with this issue – one of key importance to the young people of Skelmersdale and West Lancashire – is that the Open Space Strategy was delivered to the council by its highly paid consultants a staggering 15 months late

That is the council should have spent the last 15 months working on how to provide the additional space so badly needed.  If it had done it’s job properly, and ensured that its consultants did theirs, then a couple of hundred young people in Skem might have been playing regular football next season.

But this is what happens when you’ve got a Tory administration that simply doesn’t care.

And just for reference, here’s the text of my motion to Full council, as long ago as December 2007, and before the Open Space Strategy was even begun:

That this Council recognise the extraordinary success of the Skelmersdale Junior Football League, and the very valuable role played by the organisers of the League in facilitating healthy activity for a large number of young people in West Lancashire;

That the Council recognise that the growth of the league in recent years, along with other footballing activities at the site, means that the Liverpool Road playing fields used for the League are under considerable pressure, and that the often muddy conditions are not conducive to the development of young people’s football skills.

That in recognition of the above factors and the potential for continued expansion of the league, everything possible be done by the Council to assist the league in the running and further development of the league on satisfactory playing surfaces, including the arrangement and development of new playing areas.

The Tories voted against.

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