A Freedom of Information response has revealed that little progress has been made on providing a replacement multi user games area in Westfield despite a Council executive decision taken in February 2019.
The expectation had been that the replacement, for the now closed facility on Kingsway West, would be in use by now. Discussions were to have been held with the Acorn Rugby Club who currently lease the alternative site which is in the Thanet Road sports area.
However, it seems that meaningful correspondence only started in July 2020 some 18 months after the Council’s Executive had made their promise. Some meetings then took place in August, but no progress report has been prepared for consideration by the Councils executive
Quite why the initiative had not been followed up sooner is unclear.
It had been thought that the most likely site would be under the existing floodlights to the side of the clubhouse. This would have minimised costs and might have been useful addition to the rugby clubs training options.
It seems that that officials, however, favour a location next the car park, while a local Councillor is keen to incorporate a n outdoor gym in the plans.
No consultation has taken place with the Foxwood Residents Association on the plans. There was a lukewarm response to plans for an outdoor gym a few years ago although objections then centred on proposals to locate the facility on Chesney’s Field.
Residents are quite clear that some informal free access must be available to the new games area. The price of access to pitches at the Energise centre are prohibitive for many local young people so a system needs to be worked out which meets the needs of both local users and the rugby club. The rugby club has a good reputation for encouraging young sports people so there should be no conflict of interests.
It is understood that serval potential users have expressed a wish to rent the facility so this should provide a basic income to cover maintenance and replacement costs.
The new facility could cost around £200,000.
The Westfield ward is statistically the poorest area in the City and has the largest proportion of obese children. The project would go some way to addressing the inequalities which have been worsened in the area in recent years as a result of the development of open spaces and sports pitches.