Council blows final whistle on pitch surface

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Coach Scott Gane and his son Connor survey the wrecked pitch

A BOYS’ football team has been left without a pitch to play on after a Scots council destroyed it without warning.

Edina Hibs FC had used the playing field at Edinburgh’s Jewel Park for more than 40-years before the pitch was ripped up by Scottish Water, working on behalf of the city’s council.

The seven-a-side pitch was dug up by Edinburgh council in order to upgrade the existing sewage system to support new houses built at Craigmiller.

The team’s coach claims his team may not be able to play its games at all when the new season starts next month.

He said that team coaches were shocked when they turned up at training to discover the pitch had been fenced off and stripped of its turf.

Chairman of the club, Keith Owens, said: “I got a phone call from one of the coaches to ask if I knew what was happening because they were posts and fences going up.

Crucial

“I went down to look at it myself and was quite staggered – it’s just mud, all the top soil has been taken off.

“It will be at least another nine months before the grass grows back, and the pitch can be used.”

Mr Owens said his team already survive on a “shoe string budget”.

He added:  it’s going to be a problem for us to pay for facilities.

“It would have been courtesy to have kept us up to date with what was happening.

“We’re also concerned over whether the pitch is going to be put back in a reasonable order and whether there is going to be a phase two to this project.

“I’m pretty sure we will be able to find other facilities, but the worst case scenario is we might not be able to play our games at all.”

The under 13 and under 16 teams compete in the Lothian Buses South East League and the season begins on March 4, but work on the pitches is not due to finish until June or early July.

“Losing these two pitches is going to be crucial because there’s a lack of football facilities in the east of Edinburgh,” he said.

A council spokesman said that Scottish Water’s contractor, George Leslie Ltd was responsible for the timely information to be provided to residents and stakeholders.

He added: “We have been informed that 100 letters have now been delivered to residents and that leaflets and posters will be displayed locally.”

Scottish Water refused to comment on the lack of communication, but added: “Scottish Water Horizons, the stand-alone business, is the contactor on this Edinburgh City Council waste water upgrade project.

“This work will not directly impact on the pitches themselves. We always endeavour to provide advance notification.”

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