Investment in new 3G pitch for Bedlington Terriers at risk as council 'stalling' new lease for the club
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The club has secured a £600,000 loan to fund the project but its conditions require a new lease for the club’s ground to be signed with the council.
An agreement was reached in principle for a new lease more than six months ago, but it has not yet been officially signed by the local authority due to what it describes as a “legal issue.”
According to David Perry, chair of Bedlington Terriers, the delay means the club “could lose this investment.”
He said: “Six months farther down the line, every time we try to get the lease there just seems to be obstacles in our way.
“Something new keeps cropping up. We would have thought that once the council had committed, that they had agreed to give us a lease, they would have done all their background checks and we would not need to keep having these stalling tactics.”
“The committee is starting to lose a lot of faith and the investment committee are starting to ask questions.
“It is like everything you try to do in Bedlington. You just cannot seem to go forward.”
Having an artificial pitch would allow the ground to be used more often by the club, which wants to increase its involvement in women’s, youth, and disability football.
It would also mean people in Bedlington would no longer have to travel to other towns to use artificial pitches.
An artificial pitch would also be more resistant to harsh weather conditions, which have resulted in a number of Bedlington Terriers’ Northern Football League Division Two games being postponed this season.
David said: “Bedlington is a small town and we are trying to keep the kids involved. We are all volunteers.
“There are a lot of volunteers in the junior section who have given their time up to get youngsters from the age of seven or eight all the way through.
“It keeps them off the street and gives them an interest. If we can help with this 3G pitch, by doing this, it has got to be feasible.”
Even though the club is “not asking the council to invest a shilling” and has been told “on two or three occasions” that the council has all the information it needs, the process has been held up by the lease issue.
David said: “We have been working with the council. We have answered every question and everything they have asked for, we have given.
“It has cost us quite a large sum of money up to now.”
He added: “Is there something there they are not telling me about? Why do they not let me know and then we can try and get it ironed out and get it sorted? All we are asking for is a lease.”
A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “A legal issue has arisen around this lease. We are actively looking at options to resolve the matter as soon as possible.”