Thursday, 4 December 2014

Haltwhistle Football - an update

The long drawn out process to provide, improve and safeguard football pitches for the children and adults in Haltwhistle is something that Councillor Ian Hutchinson and I have been attempting to get a resolution upon for some considerable time. I have responded to locals concerns on the Haltwhistle Matters Facebook site but thought it would be right to set out what we have been doing about this issue on the blog, as that has a wider readership.

1. The Northumberland County Council own the Tyne River land next to the A69, and this land is earmarked for future business development. I and my team have met on several occasions with the organisers of the Junior teams who play there, and we have done everything possible to enhance and improve the number of pitches available. I have met many of the coaches, players and parents who give up their time and went to the 2013 awards ceremony:
However, given that the land is owned by NCC, and earmarked for future business development / jobs it is not a long term site, whereby stands and facilities can be added, unless and until NCC changes its views.

2. Most of our present efforts are devoted to the School pitch and its improvement and usage for the wider public, young and old.

In June, my office contacted the youth team organisers to see where I could help. We arranged a
meeting between my office, Councillor Hutchinson, the relevant senior officer at the County Council, the head teacher of Haltwhistle Campus and two reps from the youth football teams. This meeting went ahead at the school on 24th June.

It was agreed that the school and the County Council would speak with a representative of the football team (who were unfortunately unable to attend the meeting due to unforeseen personal reasons) so that they could come to an agreement whereby the school would let the teams play on their pitches and use their changing facilities. A formal agreement would need to be signed by all parties, and this would be sought at the earliest opportunity. This would then be approved by the school Governors. Once this agreement was signed, the County Council and the school could then look at what would need to be done to the pitches to make them playable/improve them.

The next contact I received about this issue was from the school in July, who stated that they were going ahead and discussing an agreement. I agreed that this was a good idea and offered my support.
I requested and received an update from a senior manager at the Council in August which confirmed that talks were proceeding.

The next communication my office received was in September, to confirm that the school’s facilities manager and the football pitch would be meeting up to discuss further. I agreed that this should happen and again offered my support if there was anything further I could do. I have received no communication from any person involved in the discussions since, and so have no reason to believe that things are not progressing as out been outlined in our previous discussions. I have always said to everyone involved in these discussions, both publicly and privately, that my door is open if they need to me to help, and that remains my position. I, and the caseworker who has helped with the day to day negotiations, can be contacted on 01434 601 420.

3. I am not going to go over the disputes concerning the village green status of the pitch north of the town, as that is a whole different story for now, but more details can be found here:

If constituents have any specific concerns, or are aware of any problems in the process, then please feel free to contact me. I am acutely conscious of the desire of many to get better football facilities in Halty. There are genuine reasons why this has not been simple or speedy; however, I do believe we are beginning to see real progress.