Councillors vote £60,000 Sheringham Tesco cash should fund new sports pitch

Sheringham sports pavilion and recreation ground.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sheringham sports pavilion and recreation ground.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

A battle for a £60,000 Tesco windfall was resolved tonight as Sheringham councillors opted to give it to the sports association.

Sheringham High School and Sheringham Sports Association went head-to-head at a special town council meeting.

They were vying for money donated by Tesco in lieu of providing sports facilities that were part of the agreement that will enable it to build a superstore on Cromer Road.

Sheringham High School wanted the money for floodlights for its existing synthetic sports pitch at the school.

Sheringham Sports Association applied for the cash to go towards an £88,000 all-weather surface to enable sports clubs to train and play there all year round.

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More than 30 members of the public turned out for the special meeting of the council, including youth football managers and youngsters from the Sheringham churches football teams.

Councillors, who voted 10-three in favour of the sports association, had an hour-long debate.

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Peter Cox said the recreation ground had 'far greater potential' for expansion, and added that the association's volunteers should be supported by the council.

Steve Booth supported the school, saying its pitch was three times the size of the one proposed at the recreation ground.

Richard Hewitt backed the school, saying its project was 'safe, certain, immediate and deliverable'. He added: 'Many more people will benefit from using the school facility.'

Madeleine Ashcroft said she was loathe to give the money to a state-funded organisation, and supported the sports association.

Mayor Doug Smith said: 'On balance, I think the sports association plans are more beneficial to the whole town.'

Earlier, Sheringham High headteacher Tim Roderick said the pitch was currently only used between 8.30am and 3.15pm on school days, and on light evenings and Saturdays by football and hockey clubs.

If successful, the school pledged to make the floodlit facility available to the community at 'competitive' costs for 3,000 hours per year.

The business case said: 'This facility could be the envy of many towns of our size. Please do not miss this opportunity.'

Sheringham Sports Association's business case said facilities at the recreation ground that it managed on Weybourne Road were 'barely large enough to accommodate the current users'.

It said they excluded totally any use by disabled people and provided no all-weather surface, forcing groups to travel outside Sheringham for winter training.

The association added: 'We need to provide an all weather surface so that our young people and not so young people have the opportunity to further their sporting abilities throughout the year.'

Association chairman Charles Sanders said there were no sports facilities in north Norfolk for people of all abilities, and this was a chance to 'create something unique for the district'.

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