Councillors put proposed new sports site on hold

Foxhunters Playing Fields, Whitley Bay-Council have drawn up plans to build a pavilion on the site.
Foxhunters Playing Fields, Whitley Bay-Council have drawn up plans to build a pavilion on the site.

PLANS for a new sports pavilion on the edge of Whitley Bay have been put on hold for cost analysis.

Labour councillors on North Tyneside Council moved a deferment of the plans at last week’s full council meeting as they were concerned about the £1.08m contribution by the authority.

Cabinet members had previously backed the proposals for the £1.5m sports complex on Foxhunters playing fields.

The plan would see Whitley Bay Football Club move onto the site and make a £50,000 contribution towards the project.

There would also be a £350,000 grant provided by the Football Foundation.

However, Labour members – who welcome the scheme and paid tribute to the work of the club and community – want to examine all funding options in the hope of finding a more prudent costing package for the authority.

Group leader Coun Jim Allan and deputy leader Coun Norma Redfearn are concerned that the money earmarked for the plan would further increase the debts for the council.

Coun Redfearn said: “We fully support this proposal and welcome the improved facilities it would bring.

“However, we are concerned about increasing further the level of the local authority’s debt to pay for it.

“We have therefore called for a decision to be deferred to the next meeting on July 26 to allow time to explore an alternative funding package for this excellent project.”

However, Mayor Linda Arkley expressed her disappointment at the delay.

“This is a really important facility for Whitley Bay Football Club and the wider community, which is why I’m so disappointed by the decision at full council.

“I had hoped we had made clear that the scheme is affordable and I would again urge all members of the council to support it.

“I can reassure councillors and our residents that we have managed the capital plan carefully.

“In fact, when this scheme and the revised financing of North Shields Customer First Centre, which cabinet agreed last month, are taken together, the level of borrowing in our ten-year capital plan is actually lower than the amount of borrowing assumed in the budget set on March 1, 2012.”

The proposed sports complex follows the success of new sports developments built at the Rising Sun sports ground in Benton, Lockey Park in Wideopen, Collingwood Field in North Shields and, most recently, East Palmersville in Benton.

The Foxhunters site has been identified as the best location for the new facilities.

It is the borough’s biggest grassed area set aside for sport.

The proposed new facilities include six changing rooms for players, officials’ changing rooms, a first aid room, community room, kitchen, office, meeting rooms, toilets and storage space.

Externally, there would be a large all-weather pitch and a newly-drained grass pitch with a spectator rail around it.

Planning permission for the scheme was granted by the council back in January.