Your support is needed to save playing fields
Published on: 04 Nov 2015
CAMPAIGNERS are urging people in Downend and Bromley Heath to support moves to secure the future of parks and playing fields in the area.
They would like to see the parish council take on the maintenance and management of the sports pitches and open spaces from South Gloucestershire Council next spring.
This would mean a nominal rise in the parish precept, which is collected alongside the council tax.
The parish council will make a decision at its meeting on November 19. It has tried not to increase the precept in recent years but now that South Gloucestershire is having to make so many budget cuts it might need to raise more funds so that it can ensure local assets are protected.
A public meeting was due to be held on October 29, just after this edition of Downend Voice went to print, to find out about people’s priorities.
Campaigners have swung into action with the aim of preserving the playing fields, which include King George V and Badminton Road and Bromley Heath.
The Friends group for King George V and Badminton Road and the We Love Bromley Heath Park group are co-ordinating a petition seeking support for the idea of the parish council taking on full responsibility for the parks.
They will have a stand at the Round Table fireworks event on November 6 and at the Christmas in Downend event on November 27 where people can add their signatures. The petition is also online.
The fireworks event, now in its 44th year, takes place at the King George V playing fields and could be at risk if the whole site becomes privately run. Similarly, the hugely popular HeathFest could be threatened if the Bromley Heath site is not in local control. The children’s play parks are not affected by the proposals, nor are the areas protected under the Fields in Trust scheme.
Fiona Konteh, chairwoman of the Friends of King George V and Badminton Road, said members of her group and the Bromley Heath group were determined to oppose any threat to playing fields.
“It goes against all the moves to encourage people to participate in sport and combat obesity,” she said.
“A rise in the parish precept would be a small price to pay to ensure the playing fields are kept. It could also mean the facilities could be improved and used by more people and groups.”
The overall proposals are part of a plan by South Gloucestershire Council to save £145,000 a year by transferring responsibility for maintenance and management of a total of nine playing field sites to sports clubs and volunteer groups.
The council is asking for expressions of interest by November 30. It held a meeting at Kingswood Civic Centre on October 21 to explain the scheme.
Many teams and clubs who use the fields will register an interest, but might not have the resources to take on the whole site. South Gloucestershire Council says it costs more than £25,000 a year to run King George V and Badminton Road, some of which is recouped by hiring out the facilities. The figure for Bromley Heath is £6,765. The parish council will decide on November 19 whether it too will register an interest.
Another affected site, Barley Close field - also known as Windsor Place field - in Mangotsfield, is not used by any regular sports team and does not fall within a parish council area. This could mean it will be neglected and fall out of use for picnicking and dogwalking as there is no obvious group to take on the £5,370 running costs.
Further information is on the consultation page of the council website. South Gloucestershire Council points out that the idea is not new: a number of sports facilities in the district have already been transferred to third parties,.
More details, Pages 10 and 11