Sutton Council gives Carshalton Athletic chance to bid for plastic pitch grant
A football club has taken a step closer to installing a controversial 'plastic pitch' after the council agreed to let it alter its lease - against its neighbours' wishes.
Sutton Council has agreed to vary the conditions of Carshalton Athletic's lease on the War Memorial Sports Ground to enable it to make an application for a £400,000 grant it plans to spend on installing an all-weather synthetic pitch.
The club hopes the new pitch will provide better sports facilities for the community, jobs and cut maintenance costs but neighbours have raised concerns that the increase in use would cause noise and disturbance.
Issues regarding the club's willingness to communicate with its neighbours were also raised but, in an effort to combat this, Sutton Council has also agreed to the formation of the Carshalton Athletic consultative committee, a group made up of representatives from the club, the council and neighbours that aims to work as a forum for all parties to discuss issues.
Councillor Simon Wales, lead councillor for finance, assets and the voluntary sector, said: "With our increased responsibilities for public health, we are very keen to support local sports clubs and we hope that Carshalton’s new artificial pitch will see greater opportunities for women, children and people with disabilities.
"However, we are aware that residents have some concerns and that is the reason that we have set up the consultative committee so they can be discussed."
Critics of the decision have said it weakens the council's position as landlord of the ground and that it has let down the club's neighbours.
Bill Main-Ian, UKIP's prospective MP for Carshalton and Wallington, said: "Let us be clear here, this is akin to me asking for a legal right over someone else’s house to be able to borrow against that house to build my driveway. Crazy."
Conservative Coun Graham Witham said: "Even the council's officers saw the proposal as diluting and loosening the council's control as landlord.
"Whilst welcoming the formation of a consultative committee residents rightly remained concerned as to how effective this could be in view of what they see as a significant breakdown in communications with the club."
Carshalton Athletic plans to build the synthetic pitch depend on it submitting a planning permission and that being approved by the council.
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