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Thatcham Town Council's £4k Pound Lane football field relocation kicks up a fuss with nearby residents

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Residents are objecting to a council proposal of re-locating a popular football playing area in Thatcham to a nearby site, calling it a “waste of money”.

The football pitch, located on the Pound Lane fields, may be moved to another spot on the same field costing the council more than £4,000.

The proposal came after a nearby resident raised complaints of footballs flying from the current pitch into their driveway.

The current location of the football goalposts in question.
The current location of the football goalposts in question.

The concerns were specifically surrounding noise from footballs flying over the resident’s fence, balls hitting their house windows and vehicles, and children knocking on the door asking for their ball back.

However, the council has now been faced with counter arguments from other nearby residents, including the chairman of the Pound Lane action group.

In a recent Thatcham Town Council recreation and amenities working party meeting, members of the public were invited to voice their concerns before the plans go to a public consultation.

The meeting heard that moving the goalposts away from the affected house, closer to where wild grass currently grows, will cost the council £3,166.

To avoid ecological losses, the council has been looking at rewilding the old playing area with wild grass and flowers, which will come to a further £860; a bill that residents said their tax money will be paying.

Chairman of the Pound Lane action group Gary Johnson said: “The council can save plenty of money by not touching this particular area.

“We are talking about 5-year-olds to 15 year olds for which there is no more than about 10 lads kicking a plastic ball, the football pitch should be left where it is.”

He asked the council: “Have you considered the aspect of the children’s safety? Moving the pitch is very questionable.

“The foliage grows to a height of three feet. If you’re suggesting children play on this new 5 a side football pitch, parents do like to see their children but will not be able to if the foliage is three feet high.”

Mr Johnson suggested removing the set of goalposts that are situated near the house in question and keeping the posts at the further end, in an aim to “attract the children to go down that far end” away from the residents.

Members of the public also raised concern for dog walkers who may get hit by balls as a result of the relocation.

One neighbouring resident said: “Every dog walker I’ve spoken to is against the move; it’s not just a handful of dog walkers, every dog walker is against it.

“At Henwick you have a playing field that dogs are not allowed to walk on. Not all dogs can walk on the road because some of them are afraid.

“Now they’re building on Lower Way that also takes that bit away for dog walkers. Not leaving us a lot of choice. We would then end up possibly being hit by balls ourselves by walking dogs.”

She added: “Moving the goalpost where you’re looking to move them, not only is that going to destroy the habitat that’s there for the wildlife, there’s also woodland behind there where deer’s live there’s also bats living in those trees.

“A ball being kicked towards that will cause problems for nature and residents.”

Another resident suggested that it be relocated next to the children’s park, but the council's services manager said: “The issue is you can’t move the football field anywhere near the children’s play park because if balls go flying over the fence and hit toddlers then that’s a huge issue, it needs to be situated away from that.”

Councillor Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said: “People tonight have some very strong views indeed.

“It might be the actual way we do it has got to be thought about but we need something, perhaps work out a questionnaire and a comment paper and deliver it to everybody in the immediate vicinity.”

To which a resident questioned whether the goalposts should be moved at all.

She said: “I am still concerned, we are still looking at moving these goals and you say it will less affect others.

“Unfortunately I would be someone who would be affected. The ball and things will come towards our gardens.

“You are moving it from one area to an area where there are more residents.”

Another member of the public added: “Move the goalposts and we get into a situation when you move it, that somebody else complains and then what do we do in 12 months time?

“Do we come back and say move it again? Because you will get complaints if you move it.”

The council concluded by aiming to have a questionnaire or some form of consultation for the public to express their views decided before the next meeting on February 28.

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