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Uttoxeter sport plan scuppered by council

By Uttoxeter Post and Times  |  Posted: July 23, 2014

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SPORTS club officials are ‘extremely angered’ after being told they cannot expand to provide vital facilities for youngsters.

Oldfields Sports and Social Club, home to Uttoxeter Rugby Club and Uttoxeter Town Football Club, has been told it cannot use any of the vacant county council-owned land at Mount Pleasant.

As both clubs continue to grow and establish more youth teams, they can no longer cope with the limited facilities at Oldfields.

The county council is looking to sell the land so it can provide extra care homes for the elderly.

The clubs had been in negotiations with Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins and Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths for several months over the issue.

According to Oldfields officials, they had been left thinking there ‘could be a compromise’.

But the Advertiser understands the county council has now rejected their request outright.

Kevin Dunn, of Uttoxeter Rugby Club, said: “Uttoxeter RFC has become one of the most successful clubs in Staffordshire, winning significant competitions at senior and junior levels each season.

“The rugby and football sections at the club have grown beyond the amount of land we currently utilise at Oldfields Sports and Social Club and are in very real danger of collapsing due to the restraints of suitable land to grow within Uttoxeter.

“We thought Philip and Andrew were behind us.

“But we did not realise just how far behind us they actually are.

“We’re extremely disappointed and angered that Staffordshire County Council has decided that Oldfields Sports and Social Club will not be allowed any allocation of the Mount Pleasant site to ease our growing pains.

“Instead, we have been told the council has no ‘statutory obligations’ to the youth sporting clubs within Uttoxeter.

“Apparently that’s down to East Staffordshire Borough Council.

“In fact, they apparently only have an obligation to the elderly. A cynical person may think that, by putting a planning application through for extra care housing on the Mount Pleasant site, they may increase the land value and return more money when a developer bids for it.

“Oldfields Club are asking that the Mount Pleasant land is given to the youth of Uttoxeter in its entirety and that extra care housing should be considered closer to Uttoxeter town.

“Both the Rugby Football Union and Football Association have pledged to put pitches on the land at their cost.

“Stafford County Council are completely neglecting the youth sporting clubs of Uttoxeter and all the good work Oldfields Sports Club has done over the last 20 years for the youth of Uttoxeter.

“That work is all being undone by the lack of land for sport in Uttoxeter and, now, when we get a chance to alleviate this land strangulation, the council override it.”

Mr Dunn said the clubs would ‘not take it lying down’ and would continue to fight for the land.

Andrew Griffiths could not be reached for comment and the county council failed to provide a statement in response.

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