Local sports pitches: Is it a level playing field?

Sewerby Heads has been identified as a site for new sports pitches in Bridlington.
Sewerby Heads has been identified as a site for new sports pitches in Bridlington.

ARE sports pitches in Bridlington good enough? Are there enough of them and what can be done to improve the facilities?

A new East Riding of Yorkshire Council report has studied evidence gathered from clubs across the county over the past two years.

It looked at the quality of pitches used for mainstream sports, football, rugby, cricket and hockey, and what can be done to ensure the facilities are up to scratch in all areas of the region.

The report has highlighted a lack of junior football pitches and its main recommendation is that more schools should open their gates to the public.

It said: “A number of options have been considered to address the shortfalls in pitch provisions and issues emerging from the study have been considered.

“These include improving community access to school facilities, re-designating existing pitches to new use, improving pitch quality and developing additional facilities on new or existing sites.

“The research has found 122 school pitches not in community use, consisting of 17 adult and 14 junior football, 52 mini soccer, 15 rugby, 14 cricket and 10 grass hockey.

“In addition there were 40 generic playing fields without marked pitches in primary schools with no community use.

“This represents a significant stock of facilities, but the success of this option depends on a commitment from schools to open for wider use and whether the pitches are of sufficient quality.

“Responses from the Schools Questionnaire show that many schools are willing to consider allowing access.

“Most of these are primary schools which could be used to provide additional mini and junior facilities and securing community access would help to future proof pitch supply, while also helping to address existing deficiencies without having to build costly new facilities.

“There are, however, a number of barriers to increasing community use of schools facilities - not all pitches are of a sufficient quality for community as well as school use, a lack of changing facilities, particularly at primary schools, and restrictions placed on access outside of school term times when there may not be a member of staff to open the school.

“Developing new facilities on new sites is the most expensive option and is only appropriate where there is a lack of provision overall and deficiencies across a number of sports which cannot be fully addressed by implementing the other options outlined.”

As well as creating new pitches for the public, the report also looked at the problems surrounding existing venues.

It stated: “From the comments accumulated, pitch drainage and the quality of changing facilities are major concerns of clubs.

“Poor drainage clearly affects the number of matches that can be played and feedback from the questionnaires has highlighted particular playing fields that evidently have drainage problems.

“With regard to changing facilities, 25% of clubs described those at their main home venue as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, 24% scored them as ‘average’ and 40% as either ‘good’ or ‘very good’. The other 11% had no changing facilities.

“The standard of council and parish council-operated changing provision, in particular, scored poorly with many sites having only basic amenities or facilities that were becoming dilapidated.

“Clubs appear more satisfied with the standard at some of the school sites and bigger club operated sites, some of which had benefited from recent investment. “

Cricket complaints highlighted a lack of quality wickets and inadequate changing facilities, while the main issue with rugby was that floodlit pitches often saw up to 10 hours a week of training, which affected the quality of the pitch for matches

Of those clubs responding to the questionnaire, 84% were currently playing at their preferred venues.

For those that were not, the lack of local pitches was the main reason, while 28% of clubs identified the lack of appropriate local facilities as an issue.

PLANS FOR BRIDLINGTON

Gypsey Road (medium term) - improve the drainage of pitches and site security to increase capacity of pitches to take current and future demand

Dukes Park (medium term) - improve fencing and other security measures to reduce vandalism

Flamborough, Wold Newton and Kilham Schools (short-to-medium term) - address barriers which prevent pitches being used by the public. The schools have said they are willing to consider community use. Burlington School and Bempton have said they do not want to open for community use, mainly because of a lack of changing facilities

Schools in Bridlington (short term) - increase community use of the sports facilities at PFI schools, which includes Headlands, Bay Primary and Bridlington School.

THE council is also planning to look at appropriate sites for new pitches if these measures do not address shortfalls.

Sewerby Heads has been identified as one location which is owned by East Riding Council which may be suitable.

FACTS AND FIGURES

404 pitches available for community use in the East Riding

117 further pitches on school grounds which are not made available to the public at present.

175 football clubs in the East Riding which generate 710 teams, including men’s, women’s and junior teams.

9 full-sized artificial pitches in the county, four of which meet the FA performance standards

588 games of football played in the East Riding each week, on average

60 cricket clubs in the East Riding, which produce 243 teams

69 cricket pitches identified as being for community use, most of which are privately-owned.

18 cricket pitches at schools are not made available to the public.

11 rugby union clubs in the area, with 123 teams at junior and senior level

34 pitches available and a further 14 rugby league pitches, most of which are located around the boundary with Hull.

79 games of rugby union played in the East Riding in an average week.

290 pitches have been tested using Sport England’s Pitch Quality Assessment, which looks at slopes, grass cover, quality of goalposts, line markings, changing facilities, parking spaces

81% were ranked as good. 3% were excellent, 14% average and just 1% below average.