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Uttoxeter MP supports sporting clubs in land-use row

By Uttoxeter Advertiser  |  Posted: July 29, 2014

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PRESSURE is building on county bosses after both Uttoxeter's parliamentary candidates threw their weight behind sports clubs being denied land for vital facilities for youngsters.

It was reported last 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' 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.

And now Tory Mr Griffiths and Labour counterpart Jon Wheale are both speaking out against the council, with Mr Griffiths stating his fellow Conservatives have made the 'wrong call'.

He said: "I absolutely share the disappointment of the football and rugby clubs in Uttoxeter that the county council can't see the sense in giving them some of this land.

"We have a growing town and there's an increasing need for sports facilities, not to mention the rate at which both clubs are making progress and expanding.

"I lobbied hard to convince Councillor Atkins and the county council that giving at least some of this land for sport would benefit the community hugely.

"There are going to be more and more youngsters coming into town in the coming years as it develops and they need to have the facilities and the chance to stay active and healthy.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and, once this land is built on, it's never coming back.

"I'd like to again urge the council to reconsider its decision and do the right thing by the people of Uttoxeter."

Mr Wheale said: "This land should be made available for the community to improve sporting facilities for our young people. Volunteers have done a great job in developing football and rugby in the town and deserve the support of local politicians.

"The Picknall Valley Preservation Group's petition showed that local people want the Picknall Valley to remain green and this was recognised by the borough council, who removed this site from the housing allocation in the local plan.

"The county council should not try to circumvent this decision by now putting forward extra care housing which could be provided elsewhere on sites already."

Staffordshire County Council last week released a statement claiming no final decision had been made about the land.

A spokesman underlined the fact the council must ensure there is provision for the elderly as thousands of extra residents come to town in the coming years.

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