Football club forced to fold after Welwyn Hatfield Council pitches 'debacle'

PUBLISHED: 19:06 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 19:15 24 July 2018

Disappointed parents, youngsters and councillors at King George V Playing Fields. Picture: Lynn Chesterman.

Disappointed parents, youngsters and councillors at King George V Playing Fields. Picture: Lynn Chesterman.

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A Welwyn Garden City football club has blamed its folding on the borough council's botched 3G pitches scheme.

King George Football Club, which once had 28 teams and was one of the biggest clubs in Hertfordshire, ceased to exist last month due to a shortage of players and parent volunteers.

Former vice chairman David Walker, known locally as ‘Wrigs’, said youngsters grew tired of not having all-weather facilities, and ended up moving to other local teams.

“The decline was because we did not have the facilities and the 3G pitches we were promised,” he added.

WHC spent £178k installing pitches at King George V Playing Fields (KGV) in 2011, before they were deemed too noisy for residents and removed for a further £137k.

•More: Council to pay £137k to move botched multi-use pitches in Welwyn Garden City

Labour councillor Lynn Chesterman, who chaired a scrutiny committee into the “debacle”, said that children who lack access to transport will now be denied the chance to exercise more.

“When the pitches were removed local children were unable to access other training facilities during winter and many either gave up football or joined other clubs,” she added.

Cllr Chesterman blamed the Conservative-run council for not consulting residents from the outset.

A WHC spokesman said: “It is a shame that King George Youth FC is folding, and we were sad to hear that they feel the closure of the 3G pitches six years ago was the cause.”

He added every effort was made to find a solution that suited residents and the club, but the council remains committed to providing quality sports facilities, evidenced by the recent £125k KGV pavilion upgrade.

Hire fees have also been frozen for the grass pitches, which are still maintained by Greenwich Leisure Ltd.

“Along with the host of activities we work with partners to provide across the borough, hopefully this will encourage young people to stay involved with sport, including football, and other leisure activities – something we value very highly,” he added.

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