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Lottery grant could save council pitches

Lottery grant could save council pitches

A proportion of a £2m pot is being offered to improve playing fields and could stop predicted council-owned pitch hire rates.

The National Lottery funding is designed to ‘deliver mass participation’ in sport as part of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy.

Organisations are being asked to apply for the fund if they own the lease on the site and if it protected for 25 years or more.

The organisers at Protecting Playing Fields (PPF) has also advised it will favour those fields that are community owned, or whose owner can demonstrate future management, maintenance and sporting use plans.

PPF hopes some of the 33,200 sports pitches in England can be saved as a result of the funding, increasing the opportunity for communities across the country to get involved in grassroots football.

The news could benefit local council, Liverpool City Council, which is coming to the end of a four-year plan to increase the number of football teams in the area.

In the four years, the council has not seen a single pitch closed, but under financial pressure, this could change.

Meanwhile, Sefton Council has threatened to revisit drastic fee rises for its pitches next year after postponing its original plans to introduce the price hikes this year.

According to PPF: “We believe that the best way to protect and enhance playing fields is for all local authorities to have a robust and up to date Playing Pitch Strategy ( PPS ) in place for their area, backed by appropriate management and maintenance arrangements.

“An up-to-date Playing Pitch Strategy or local needs assessment is a key requirement upon which applications need to be based.”

This is the third round of the grant and it ends on 9 July 2012. In the previous two rounds of applications, 109 pitches have benefitted with a shared pot of £4.7m.

The current round is the third out of five, with the fourth planned for November and an as-yet-unannounced fifth planned for 2013.

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