Dark days in football club's lights row

BOSSES at a football club have been left furious today after attempts to keep floodlights up during the soccer season were thwarted.

BOSSES at a football club have been left furious today after attempts to keep floodlights up during the soccer season were thwarted.

Felixstowe and Walton United has been told once again by the area's council it must take down the lights in Dellwood Avenue after every game because they look unsightly for those living nearby.

Club press officer Phil Griffiths said: “This ensures the football club remains the only one in Britain that has to perform the raising and lowering of the pylons before and after matches, even when the lights have been switched off.

“The raising and lowering of the floodlights is a constant drain on our limited resources.

“It is not only a dangerous and hazardous activity, especially on winter nights, but also noisy as the generator required to raise and lower is petrol driven, and it is environmentally wasteful to be instructed to use a petrol-driven generator to lower the lights, even when they are off.”

Raising and lowering knocks the lights out of alignment. The cost of this and of the generator runs into thousands of pounds a year.

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The ground has been home to the town's senior club - which plays in the Premier Division of the Ridgeons League - for more than 70 years.

The club is also upset because in recent years the council has granted permission for permanent lights at other clubs, including Ipswich Rugby Club, Ipswich Wanderers FC, Leiston FC, Framlingham Town FC and Ipswich Town's training facilities.

Mr Griffiths said: “It seems the council has a long-standing determination to punish the town's residents for having kept their football club on land that they would now love to sell and develop.”

Felixstowe and Walton United runs sessions for 250 boys and girls aged from six to 16, plus an under-18 side.

Mr Griffiths said: “It is hard to believe in the 21st century, a ground that was a sports facility before any houses or roads were built around or backing onto it, should have such restrictions placed upon it because 16 people out of a population of 30,000 objected.”

A Suffolk Coastal District Council spokesman said a public inquiry inspector decided in 1989 the lights should be retracted when not in use.

He said: “There is local and national planning guidance regarding floodlighting to ensure it does not have an adverse impact on neighbouring residential properties. The council needs to balance the wishes of the clubs against the potential impacts on neighbouring residents.”

n Do you think the football club should be allowed to keep the lights up? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk