School sports lights put out

NAILSEA School will continue to pursue extending the opening hours of its all-weather pitch, despite councillors unanimously rejecting such plans.

Headteacher David New was left shocked on June 14 when North Somerset Council’s central area committee opposed increasing usage by up to 12 hours a week, after neighbours complained of glare from floodlights and excessive noise and swearing from players.

The site, constructed in 2008 when the Mizzymead Road school was rebuilt, is currently not open as long as other all-weather pitches at Clevedon and Gordano schools. An extension of opening hours would have allowed an extra 200 sportsmen to use the pitch each week.

Mr New was surprised councillors went against the planning officers’ recommendation and said the school will submit another application in the future.

The school currently has a waiting list of teams wanting to use the facilities and is having to turn away rugby and football clubs wanting to train on the pitch on five Sunday afternoons a year.

Mr New said: “We want to make sure that the community hs the use of the facilities.

“I’m amazed that the elected representatives have gone against the stated aim of the council and ignoring the Government’s aim of increasing exercise among young people.”

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More than a dozen complaints were submitted by residents ahead of the decision.

Seventy-one year-old Duncan Martin, who lives in Station Road, said residents were fed up and the extension application was the ‘final straw’.

Cllr Jan Barber said: “Nailsea residents are very proud of the school and this [opposition] is no reflection on how we feel about the school.

“But the trees have so far had no benefit. In the fullness of time they will probably help enormously but at the moment are no help at all.

“I think the residents have shown remarkable forbearance. If the residents should have complained on a weekly basis to get something done, then I apologise. I would have done it for them as I’m acutely aware of the problems they face.”

Mr New however claims the school hs planted more trees than it was told to in 2008 and said he would take advice on the issue before another planning application is made.

The refusal to extend the opening hours will mean the pitch will remain open from 8.30am-8pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am-6pm on Saturdays and 9am-1.30pm on Sundays.