Councillors back plan for Five Arches
Plans to redevelop the Five Arches playing field in Tweedmouth have received the backing of Berwick Town Council.
Councillors believe Tweedmouth Community Football Club’s plans offer a great opportunity to improve sports facilities in the town.
The club, currently playing in the Border Amateur League, wants to redevelop the pitches it leases from Northumberland County Council.
The first phase of its plan, if funding can be secured, would involve the installation of a rail and perimeter fence around the pitch.
This is in order to meet entry requirements to the East of Scotland League but would also protect the pitch from damage, for example through vehicle tyre marks, and prevent dog fouling.
A second phase would see the refurbishment of the former play park, while there are also plans to provide safe parking and, eventually, a clubhouse which could be used by community groups.
Coun Hazel Bettison said: “The park has not been used to its potential for years and these volunteers want to make this town better for all of us, not just the football club.”
Coun Karin Graham added: “This group has some fantastic plans for our community and the children of Tweedmouth will benefit.”
Club chairman Les Fletcher told members how the club had already done a lot of work to tidy up the park, including the collection of 600 bags of dog dirt.
Some of its more ambitious redevelopment plans have also been put on hold.
“Our main priority now is to create a park in what was an overgrown wilderness where children can be dropped off safely rather than on the main road,” he said. “Floodlights, the play park and clubhouse will all depend on public support and fund-raising.”
He also reiterated that the fencing around the pitch would still allow access.
“All it means is that you will not be able to drive a car through which will stop joy riders,” he said.
A group of local residents, led by Coun Robert Bruce, have voiced opposition to the loss of greenfield space if a car park and clubhouse are built.
“I am dead against it,” said Coun Bruce. “I don’t think it’s needed and I think it will end up being a commercial enterprise. The pitch plans aren’t to keep people off, it’s to comply with the league rules.”
Several objectors also raised their concerns at the town council meeting, including Bronwen Perry who accused the council of failing to listen to local residents. She also queried why there was no mention of costs.
Coun Tom Forrester said there had been a lack of transparency and consultation.
The plans were also debated at a public meeting in Tweedmouth Bowling Club last Wednesday night.
Kevin Shearer, one of the objectors, said: “People turned out looking for more information but there wasn’t any.”
There was also confusion that papers outlining the club’s initial plans, which included a proposed wind turbine, were distributed.
“They were the first plans, not the new ones,” Mr Fletcher replied. “Tweedmouth Community Football Club will prove to all the doubters that our plans for the Five Arches are for all of the community who want to use it.”
Members voted 9-4 to support the club’s proposals in principle.