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Felixstowe: Concern voiced at cost to clubs of resort’s new sports hubs

PUBLISHED: 13:30 24 March 2014

Felixstowe and Walton v Hadleigh - the club's ground in Dellwood Avenue is set to become a sports hub for football.

Felixstowe and Walton v Hadleigh - the club's ground in Dellwood Avenue is set to become a sports hub for football.

Proposals to create “sports hubs” with specific activities at certain grounds have been welcomed by community leaders, but they voiced concern at whether clubs would be able to afford the changes.

Under the Suffolk Coastal plan for Felixstowe, clubs will take over the running of their grounds, paying only a peppercorn rent for the site but having to pay for its maintenance.

This will save the council more than £56,000 a year, and leisure officers say it will create areas of sporting excellence, help the clubs grow and enable them to plan for the future and control their own destinies.

The project will see football concentrated at the home of Felixstowe and Walton United FC in Dellwood Avenue; rugby at the Coronation Ground; cricket at Eastward Ho; and hockey at Felixstowe Academy.

Changes in the original proposals following discussions with the clubs mean Harpers Field in Seaton Road and Walton Rec will both remain in use as grounds for local teams.

Felixstowe Town Council welcomed the move but wanted assurance that clubs understood the full financial implications of the plans.

It also called for jogging facilities and other outdoor sports provision, that the Grove car park continue for public use, and that the sites are still open to public.

Councillor Michael Sharman questioned whether clubs understood the costs involved of buying equipment and hiring staff to maintain pitches.

He said: “They will have to spend thousands of pounds on equipment and other costs – I don’t think this stacks up.

“We must make sure they understand the full implications.”

Councillor Kimberley Williams stressed the importance of consultation with neighbourhoods around the grounds over the potential impact of extra use, including traffic, parking and noise.

Councillor Doreen Savage said the previous proposals – which envisaged moving Felixstowe and Walton Utd to Eastward Ho – had been “quite horrendous”.

She said: “The new outcomes give the clubs exactly what they want.”

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