Sheffield Hallamshire RUFC reply to Hobson article in the Sheffield Star (30th September 2016)

6 months ago By Jack Hiscock

Looking forward to working with the community!

Sheffield Star Article

Hallamshire have welcomed the increased publicity in our move onto the Bolehills in Crookes through the article published in The Sheffield Star today. We do have some small clarifications we would like to make however:

Concerns were raised amid rumours that Hallamshire Rugby Club were planning to develop a new pitch on the top field in Bolehill Park, Crookes.

Many residents were alarmed at plans to build a fence around the pitch - which they feared could block public access to the field.

The club and Sheffield Council have confirmed that the field will be used as a pitch from January 2017.

While concerns have been raised by a minority of residents regarding our move onto the site we have found the majority of Crookes residents very welcoming to our relocation. We were in attendance at the Ritetrax event where we discussed our move onto the site with local residents who were pleased to find the site was to be used as a sports field again and that many families were pleased that there would be another sports club in the area. It should be noted that historically the site has been used for sports pitches in the past.

But they have stated that any fence would not prevent access and would need to go to a public consultation before being erected.

Resident Margaret Nalty said: "The top field is well used by the community; by dog walkers, spontaneous football matches, for picnics in summer and so on.
"Fencing the area off, no matter how high, would ruin the ambiance of the field completely."

The fence and gate that is being looked at as part of a longer term vision will only surround the playing area of the pitch and will not be above waist height. This is purely to ensure a clean surface and will be able to be used by all residents in the area (besides when it’s being used as a pitch!). We are aware that the field is used by dog walkers and we have had impromptu discussions with many while we have been training on the field. They have all been highly supportive of the plan as many recognise that there is a serious issue in the area relating to some dog owners. Comments on the ‘Sheffield Forum’ have also been largely positive, suggesting to us that opposition to this fence is in the minority. It will leave a clean surface that can be used by all families wishing to picnic in a dog mess free area and can be used by the same families wishing to have spontaneous football games (we would prefer Rugby of course!).

A councillor, who did not wish to be named, said: "Why this hasn't been publicised and why the views of regular uses have not been sought. Is it because they know there would be objections?

"Sheffield Council make much of the fact we should all move more and take regular exercise and yet they are planning to take part of a very popular public open space."

It’s worth noting at this stage that the unnamed councillor has been involved in the project from the beginning and has been highly supportive from its inception. We do find it misleading to suggest that this hasn’t been publicised as we have attended local events and have been present at both the Crookes Forum and the Friends of Bolehills. As the councillor hasn’t attended any recent local meetings such as these, we suggest that it hasn’t been noted previously. Sheffield Council have been very supportive of our move themselves and the provision of an organised sports team in the local area can only increase people’s opportunity to join in sports and recreation activities. We hope in the future to run open 7s tournaments in the summer with local groups submitting teams and to organise summer camps for children. Any future fence would also benefit this as it would give a clean area for people to undertake fitness activity without the fear of treading in dog mess. We hope that this plan will give more opportunity to use the area for fitness activity. We also expect that this clean space will be made available to other local sports clubs if required.

As the area has previously been used for football pitches, the club is free to erect rugby posts.
Tom Helliwell, chairman of Hallamshire Rugby Club, who currently do not have a pitch, said they were considering erecting 'waist-high' fencing around the pitch in a bid to keep the area free from dog feces. He said: "We would like the pitch to be used by schools in the area who do not have access to any green space. A small fence would allow us to keep the area dog free, so school children could use it for all kinds of exercise."

Tom, who lives in Crookes, added: "We want this to be a positive thing for the community and are keen to work with - not against - everybody involved."

Coun Mary Lea cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council said: “We are in discussions with the Hallamshire Rugby Club regarding their potential use of part of the playing fields at Bolehill Park. Part of the proposal would be the possibility of waist height fencing with self-closing gates in order to keep the space dog free. However, we will consult with local people on these proposals before any decisions are made, to make sure that everyone can continue to enjoy spending time in the park.”

We have found the people of Crookes to be highly receptive to our move into the area. Our renovation of the previously empty Mercury Taxi building on the edge of Bolehill Park itself will be available for hire to the local with a modern kitchen installed and a bar to be installed. We hope that this can be used by the local community and as any local groups who might be interested in hire to get in contact with us. We are working with local groups (e.g. Crookes Forum and Friends of Bolehill) to make our presence in the area one that can only bring a positive feeling into Crookes. With nearly nine of our players due to become fathers in the next 12 months we wish to push our credentials as an open and family friendly club who would love you all to get involved.

Please do contact us via this website or via our facebook page if you have any comments to make to us, both positive or negative. We want to work with you!
If you wish to come join us then training is currently at King Edwards School on Darwin Lane (under the floodlights) from 19:30-21:00 on Tuesdays.

Jack Hiscock
Director and Vice Chairman
Hallamshire RUFC

Updated 20:19 - 30 Sep 2016 by Jack Hiscock

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