THORNABY FOOTBALL: Calls for fines for clubs leaving mess on fields
POINT deductions and fines should be levied against football teams leaving fields a mess.
That was the view of outspoken Thornaby Mayor Steve Walmsley after more complaints about empty bottles and rubbish on two of the town’s sports grounds.
Voluntary litter picking groups have been increasing in number across Teesside – with Thornaby’s Community Litter Project one of the fastest growing in the region.
And there was fresh anger about detritus on the town’s Harold Wilson and Littleboy Park recreation grounds at Monday night’s Thornaby Town Council meeting.
Cllr Ray Godwin, ward member for Stainsby Hill, said there’d been a lot of concern about the amount of litter left by teams playing football.
“I don’t know what we can do about it as a town council, but these clubs are renting the pitches and they’re leaving them as a disgrace after they’ve been on,” he added.
“It’s not good enough.
“This Sunday just gone, an old mate with a walking frame picked up a massive bag of rubbish from the Littleboy Park after they left.
“Mess on the Harold Wilson is a weekly occurrence.”
Organised outdoor sport restarted on Teesside at the start of this month as lockdown eased.
But Monday’s meeting heard problems with litter and mess on pitches had cropped up for years off Bader Avenue and the Littleboy, off Acklam Road.
Cllr Ian Dalgarno wanted tougher action.
“They know the teams who are playing there and who’s paying the money,” he added.
“If they fined them £60 every time they left it with litter, it would soon stop it.”
Stockton Council manages the hire of both the Littleboy and Harold Wilson sports fields – and looks after their upkeep.
Cllr Godwin believed authority enforcement teams had a role to play.
And Cllr Walmsley praised the efforts of litter picking groups and council officers who picked up rubbish.
The committee heard from Stockton Council officer Mark Fairbairn – who told members picking up rubbish was often a “non stop job” with hotspot areas regularly hit by litter.
“You try and find the bad areas and try and keep on top of them,” he added.
“It’s sometimes very hard but sometimes it isn’t.”
Cllr Walmsley said some people were “ignorant and stupid” – and called on leagues to “get a grip” of teams leaving a mess.
“Even points, anything – just to get the message across we’re not going to stand for it,” he added.
“People like Mark are going out, as well as these volunteers.
“How dare you s*** our town up.”
After the meeting, Derek Overton, president of the Stockton Sunday Football League, said teams paid “a lot of money” for the pitches and other fees as things stood – and believed the problem was a council matter.
Mr Overton said: “There might be some that don’t do what they’re supposed to do.
“It’s been documented in league meetings that they must pick up rubbish.
“We tell them to take a carrier and take their litter home with them.
“The odd one might not but the rest of them are pretty good at it.”
The league official added that any docking of points would have to be agreed at an AGM.
Mr Overton added: “If the council found rubbish after the games, then they should kick up to us about it – not wait until two days later as they haven’t stopped the kids going over there.
“Anybody could go down there and shot cans and rubbish down.”
A Stockton Council spokeswoman said: “We work closely with Durham Football Association and local football league to regularly reinforce to clubs that teams are responsible for their litter and it should be removed at the end of every game.
“We have cleaning teams who carry out regular maintenance in all parks and any if any excessive amount of littering is found following official games we would raise this with the league – which could lead to the team being barred from using the facilities.
“This season we have had no such reports.
“Pitches are open for public use so unfortunately littering could be carried out by other users of the park but we’d ask anyone using our green spaces to take their rubbish home or use the bins provided.”
Anyone witnessing littering can report this to Stockton Council via email at: Civic.Enforcement@stockton.gov.uk or by calling 01642 528439.
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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