Sporting Chance: Clubs across Edinburgh welcome council vow following Evening News campaign

Sporting clubs across Edinburgh have welcomed a vow to improve access to facilities following the Evening News ‘Sporting Chance’ campaign.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 6:43 am
Kids attempt to play football on a badly maintained pitch at Buckstone.

Edinburgh City Council has agreed a cross-party motion, tabled by Conservative Cllr Phill Doggart, instructing officials to look into a trusted key-holder system to give clubs easier access to council facilities.

Councillors also agreed to accept responsibility for marking pitches, cutting the grass, and removing grass cuttings.

An amendment was accepted from Green members to set up conversations with private schools and universities about how their facilities could be made available to the public.

The move comes after four weeks of pressure from the Evening News’ ‘Sporting Chance’ campaign, calling on the local authority to work with the Scottish Government and other funding organisations to fulfill six key pledges.

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They include cutting the grass in public spaces and taking it away, and a commitment to properly maintain pitches and sporting facilities.

Cllr Doggart, who also called on the authority to accept responsibility for pitch maintenance, said the council should “hang its head in shame” at the state of some facilities across the city.

He added: “If we want a healthy, active city, we must provide the facilities to make it happen.

“When we provide those facilities, we must maintain them to the highest possible standards – that means cutting the grass, removing the grass cuttings, marking pitches properly and also investing in off-field facilities. That also means trusting clubs who have been faithful customers over many years to access facilities as easily as possible.

“It’s important to pay tribute to the Evening News campaign, Sporting Chance, that has been put in place over the last few weeks.”

Liberal Democrat culture and communities spokesperson, Cllr Hal Olser, also backed the campaign.

She said: “We are so fortunate in this city to have so many dedicated volunteers, willing to give up their free time to help those with a range of ambitions from representing your country to recovering from a health scare.

“The least we can do is support them with providing facilities that are fit for purpose and the possibility of trusted key-holder system to allow them the usage when it might otherwise not be possible.”

Culture and communities convener Cllr Donald Wilson said: “I would commend the Evening News for their Sporting Chance campaign. We fully intend to push it forward and all of these points will be addressed.”

Saltire Sports Radio, which has supported the ‘Sporting Chance’ campaign from the beginning, said: “It’s great to hear the council are saying they will look into their role in the lacklustre pitch maintenance.

“But it needs to be done quickly, as teams at the moment are not able to use certain grass pitches due to the issue, and this means they have to spend extortionate amounts on hiring all weather parks.”

Oxgang’s Trinity FC, who have also supported the campaign, said: “The councils decision is good news, however, we need the upkeep to start now especially with winter around the corner. The pitches need looked after sooner rather than later.”

Another supporter, Rob Marshall, who coaches Currie Star’s 2009’s, said: “I’ll believe it when I see it to be honest. And should their response on Twitter not read ‘IMPROVE’ standards, as the current standards are awful.”