Plan for Five Arches put on hold by club

A football club's plans for the redevelopment of a Tweedmouth park may have to be curtailed but they have not been abandoned.

Monday, 16th July 2018, 9:11 am
Coun Robert Bruce, centre, with concerned residents at Five Arches in Tweedmouth.

Tweedmouth Football Club had wanted to redevelop the pitch it currently leases from Northumberland County Council with the installation of a rail and 1.8metre-tall perimeter fence around it.

This was to meet entry requirements to the East of Scotland League, which would open the door for staging potentially lucrative Scottish Cup ties but would also protect the pitch from damage, for example, through vehicle tyre marks, and prevent dog fouling.

Secretary and assistant manager John Short outlined the current position at a meeting of Berwick Town Council after councillors received a report suggesting the plans had been abandoned.

He revealed that former committee members Les Fletcher and Ricky Renner have left the club and a new committee has been elected to take the club forward.

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“We have not abandoned the plans,” he revealed. “They are on hold. The club has not got thousands of pounds to meet these measures so our current vision is to make sure we are playing in the Border Amateur League on Saturdays and have training facilities there.”

However, he highlighted that damage to the pitch caused by vehicles is an on-going problem, while club volunteers regularly have to clear broken glass and empty bottles of alcohol.

“We’re the ones who tidy up the mess,” he said, adding that the problem had worsened since the closure of the neighbouring Seton Hall care home.

He hoped ‘to draw a line in the sand and move on’ from the controversies of the past 12 months.

A public meeting is being planned later this summer to discuss the park and begin the process of agreeing a vision for its future that meets the aspirations of all.

Local interest group, The Friends of Five Arches, has already drawn up a preliminary document which will help with this and it is envisaged the football club will remain a major part of the park’s future.

The Friends’ vision calls for the park to remain in full public ownership and for sports or other facilities to be freely available to everyone except where a licence or short-term lease is granted for exclusive use on specified days.

Town council clerk Gareth Davies acknowledged at last week’s local services committee meeting that ‘as officers we did not understand the range of views at Five Arches’.

He believes the park requires a management plan which has been the subject of proper consultation, and which is realistically funded to enable the park to be of use to as many residents as possible.

Coun Robert Bruce said he felt the town council should be involved to protect its interests as landowners of two small plots of land: A former children’s play area and a set of allotments.

Howevers, town councillors decided they only wanted to be involved in the process to maintain a watching brief as landowners.

Coun Karin Graham said: “It’s a county council issue. I don’t think Berwick Town Council should be getting involved in its management. We have more than enough work to be getting on with.”

Coun Brian Parkin agreed: “I think we have probably done more harm than good in affecting relations between the different groups.

“I don’t think we should be getting involved with a management plan for the park when we only have two small areas of land.

“We should only look at the allotments and access to them.”