Sunday, June 16, 2024

£1 million Birchwood sports plans halted at extraordinary council meeting

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Birchwood Community Sports Project would have seen a 3G football pitch built, a re-laid multi-use games area, a new all-weather outdoor basketball court and outdoor gym equipment built at Birchwood Leisure Centre.

The plans would have seen a £1 million investment and support from the Football Foundation and Hertfordshire FA, but opposition has come from the Hatfield Football Community Group, who are proposing the site be used to build a football ground for Hatfield Town FC.

Due to the “hostility and obstruction created” by the opposition, an extraordinary full council meeting was called on Tuesday (May 14) to vote on if the Labour run administration’s plans should be put on hold until November.

But, an amendment was put forward to stop the project completely, which was successfully voted through, much to the sadness of Hatfield Town Council leader Larry Crofton.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Hatfield Town Council leader Larry Crofton.Hatfield Town Council leader Larry Crofton. (Image: Hatfield Town Council)

“At an extraordinary full council meeting of Hatfield Town Council, a proposal was put forward to pause the implementation of the Birchwood Community Sports Project.” he said. 

“This would allow further ideas to be developed and accommodated. However, opposition councillors successfully put forward an amendment to stop the project completely.

“The Labour administration is shocked and saddened that this coalition of opposition councillors have taken this £1 million-plus investment opportunity away from the community without any clear ideas or alternative credible proposals.

“The Labour administration will continue to work on its inclusive community health and well-being initiatives across Hatfield and seek to revisit this matter after the standard six months have elapsed to review town council decisions and motions.”

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Hatfield Community Football Groups proposed ground.Hatfield Community Football Groups proposed ground. (Image: The Hatfield Football Community Group)

Hatfield Community Football Group wants to see Hatfield Town FC return home, having not played on their own ground in the town for nearly 40 years.

In 1984, the club folded due to lack of finances and a committee to run the team, before reforming in 1989.

Hatfield Town has previously played games at Birchwood, but have been forced out of the town in recent years, playing at nearby grounds in Welwyn Garden City and Hertford.

Reacting to the vote, a spokesperson for the group said: “We make no apology for seeking the support of the community and stakeholders, and campaigning for a community football ground that will promote football and the town.”

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