Public playing fields in the Wyre Forest will be available to football teams thanks to a deal between Wyre Forest District Council and the Worcestershire Football Association. The authority is the first in the country to enter into such an arrangement with a County Football Association. The new lease agreements also see the expansion of rugby for Kidderminster Carolians RFC and keeps a public bowling green in the district.
The authority has been negotiating with partners for the past 18 months to secure the future of football at Brown Westhead Park, White Wickets, Springfield Park and Habberley.
The Worcestershire Football Association has established a social enterprise company which will lease the pitches from the Council at all four sites. The company will then grant a license to the Kidderminster & District Football League and Kidderminster Athletic FC to use specific sites.
Kidderminster Carolians RFC will also be granted a lease at White Wickets to create two further rugby pitches and some training areas. This will enable the expansion of junior rugby. Kidderminster Carolians has also agreed to maintain the bowling green and hut (which will double up as a junior changing room).
Councillor Helen Dyke, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet Member for Operational Services said:
“This is a great example of the Council working with partners to make sure that services are continued to be provided in the district. It’s good news all around. We’re saving some of the money we need to and the future of local football in the district has been secured as well as increasing the provision for junior rugby. We do want the public to be reassured that these areas are still public open spaces and people may use the space as before.”
The lease is for 50 years with an option to renew.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Leader of Wyre Forest District Council and Member with responsibility for localism said:
“We are actively encouraging further involvement by community groups into the management of their local assets. Having our sporting authorities and clubs take over the maintenance of playing fields is a great example of that approach. It adds value to the locality and saves the Council money. We are working hard to bring similar projects forward.”
Nichola Trigg, the Chief Executive of Worcestershire Football Association said:
“We are delighted to have been able to work with Wyre Forest District Council to have the opportunity to secure football pitches and changing facilities for grassroots football clubs. This is the first such transfer that has been undertaken in respect of football pitches and it is testament to the commitment that Wyre Forest District Council has in supporting football that this opportunity has arisen. It is fantastic that the Kidderminster & District Football League and Kidderminster Athletic FC are prepared to organise the maintenance and management of these playing fields and changing rooms as well as manage the bookings. We know there is a strong demand for the pitches and so it’s great to be able to work out a way for everyone to still get access to play football on local grass pitches. ”
Keith Skirving Chair of Kidderminster Carolians said:
“We needed somewhere to expand and White Wickets is ideal for us. It’s just down the road from our clubhouse and will provide the perfect space for us to develop our teams. Working with the Council has enabled the Club to solve our current shortage of pitch issue and we are truly grateful to the Council to secure this additional facility. This is an exciting time for Kidderminster Carolians RFC. ”