Garstang sports grounds to be ‘fenced off’

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GARSTANG’S Riverside sports area is set for an ambitious makeover - which could help propel the town’s football team to promotion.

Plans have been drawn up which could mean the open access sportsground (used by the football, cricket and tennis clubs) will be fenced off.

Eight 15 metre high floodlights are also planned around the football field so games can be played in the evenings.

The installation of the lights would be part of an upgrade of facilities at the football club, to also include installing turnstiles and seating areas, that meet the ground grading criteria to allow them to progress to a higher league and compete in prestigious competitions like the FA Vase.

The plans were revealed by Riverside owners Garstang Sports and Social Club on Monday.

Sports and Social Club officials, as well as leaders of the football and cricket clubs, believe the changes will benefit the town and its sporting organisations, encouraging players and attracting younger players, ensuring the future of the sports and social club as well as boosting sports professionalism both on and off pitch.

Another benefit will be ridding both the football and cricket pitches of the persistent problem of dog fouling. Even though officials routinely inspect and try to clear the pitches prior to games players still complain of getting dog faeces on their sports gear.

The Sports and Social Club statement said: “We have almost 300 members participating in sport under our umbrella, it is our responsibility to protect and provide what we can for those members.’’

Commenting on the increasing dog fouling problems, they said: “We accept that most dog walkers are responsible owners so there will still be a public access around the perimeter of the site maintaining a direct link to the Millennium Green.”

In a joint statement the football and cricket clubs said: “We have both suffered through trespass, damage to the playing areas and an increase in dog fouling which requires constant monitoring by ground staff for the obvious health and safety reasons.

“We share the same ambition for our respective clubs’, improving standards, facilities, playing at the highest level possible and attracting young players to play.”

Sports bosses believe the see-through perimeter fencing will help stop dog fouling problems and meet the criteria required for both clubs to play at a higher standard. The football club has recently lost several locally based players to teams outside the Garstang area which have better grounds and infrastructure.

The metal fence around the football pitch will be 1.8m high, while the fence around the cricket pitch will be 1.2m high.

Wyre Council will decide the plans within the next two months. If they are approved, work on the changes will begin at the end of the football season in May 2012.

Garstang Sports and Social Club have yet to reveal the overall costs of the development. Planning agent, Garstang-based Mr Graham Salisbury, said the initial investment would be around £10,000.

The plans include giving extra security to Garstang Tennis Club, which has had vandal problems in recent years. Tennis Club spokesman Mr David Pearson was unavailable for comment.

The turnstiles and floodlights which the football club intends to site at Riverside were bought from League Two side Morecambe when they moved from their old Christie Park ground to the new Globe Arena last season.

The Riverside improvement plans mark the biggest investment at the site for many years, and follow on from the purchase by club of the grounds three years ago from previous owner Wyre Council.