COUNTY bosses have defended their decision to block plans to provide vital sports facilities for youngsters in Uttoxeter.
It was reported earlier this week that Oldfields Sports and Social Club was told it could have none of the land at Mount Pleasant, in Stone Road.
Uttoxeter Town Football Club and Uttoxeter Rugby Club are both rapidly expanding and serve hundreds of youngsters in town, but have just two pitches at Oldfields between them.
The county council-owned land, which is worth millions of pounds, has now been formally earmarked for sale for extra care housing for the elderly.
This is despite the site having been struck off the Local Plan for housing by East Staffordshire Borough Council due to residents' environmental protests.
Sports club chiefs had been under the impression a 'compromise' could be reached after meeting with council leader Philip Atkins and Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths.
But the council has now said its duty to the elderly and 'challenging financial conditions' mean it is unable to give the land away.
Ian Parry, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance at Staffordshire County Council, said: "Uttoxeter is set to grow considerably in the years ahead with plans submitted for hundreds of new homes, plus exciting business development. We need to ensure that as the population increases, we use the public land we own to provide the essential services which people need, and that the county council is responsible for, such as schools and extra care homes for elderly people.
"At times we also sell any surplus land at the best value to help fund these important projects and other important infrastructure like new roads and business parks.
"We carry out regular reviews of our property, and no final decision has been made on the future of land at Stone Road as we continue to look at all the options for it.
"However, what we cannot do particularly at a time when finances are under great pressure and our population is both growing and getting older, is give land away.
"The sports and social club clearly does a fantastic job in Uttoxeter and I hope that, through conversations with East Staffordshire Borough Council and other bodies, they can find a way to expand."