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Complaining club bosses got thousands

PUBLISHED: 05:05 14 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 March 2010

FOOTBALL club chiefs who accused a council of "dragging its heels" in giving help have been offered £26,000 of taxpayers' money, it was revealed today.

FOOTBALL club chiefs who accused a council of "dragging its heels" in giving help have been offered £26,000 of taxpayers' money, it was revealed today.

Councillors made the disclosure as they hit back at criticisms made by Tony Barnes, chairman of Felixstowe and Walton United FC.

Mr Barnes said Suffolk Coastal council "continually drags its heels in all its dealings with us and gives us very little help at all".

The club would love a new ground, which would solve many of its problems, while its pavilion was falling to bits and should be condemned and many smaller towns and clubs had far better facilities than Felixstowe.

But David Smith, cabinet member for finance and resources and a member of the council's task group on the football club, said the authority was "extremely disappointed by the unjustifiable claims of lack of support" made by the club.

"The reported comments by the club's chairman are the first that the council has heard that the club is unhappy with the extremely generous offers formally passed to the club's solicitors over a month ago by Suffolk Coastal," he said.

"On the table is a new 25-year lease for exclusive use of the Dellwood Avenue football ground, £26,000 of council tax payers' money to fund improvements to the pavilion, a rescheduling of £6,000 of back rent they owe the council on their current lease, plus the go-ahead for a new grandstand.

"Funding for the new grandstand we understood was to come from the Football Association.

"An archaeological check has to be made by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal will be contacting the county council at the request of the club to check on its progress."

The district council recognised the importance of the football club, particularly its very strong youth section, and a group of senior councillors had met the club on a regular basis.

"The council recognises the need for the club to find a permanent alternative site and although this will inevitably be a lengthy process that is why we have been actively working with the club to identify other sites in the Felixstowe area which the club could own and operate," said Mr Smith.

"What the council does not think is right is that it should pay for improvements to the bar and kitchen facilities of the football club – we are happy to make improvements to the structure of the pavilion so that its roof and walls are secure, but the other elements are really the responsibility of the club, rather than the council.

"The council want to continue its previously excellent working relationship with the club and find a mutually acceptable way forward."

n Should the council give Felixstowe and Walton Utd £26,000? Should it have a new ground and pavilion? Write to Evening Star letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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