A FOOTBALL club has hit back over criticism that it is hampering access to Sonning Common skate park by the
A FOOTBALL club has hit back over criticism that it is hampering access to Sonning Common skate park by the emergency services.
Last week, the Henley Standard reported how parish councillors had accused Rotherfield United of refusing to provide easy access to Bishopswood sports ground off Gallowstree Road in case of an emergency.
The council asked for a combination lock instead of a padlock but the club refused saying this could leave the field open to travellers.
Council chairman Douglas Kedge called the club’s response a “disgrace”.
In a joint statement, club chairman Andy Tidswell and treasurer Paul Collier said the land was private but the club allowed the public to use it for recreation and dog walking.
They continued: “We have had a number of incidents such as scrambling bikes damaging pitches, break-ins to our changing facilities, abusive behaviour by adults and children alike from the local community.
“For these reasons security at the site is paramount, especially after there have been incursions on other local sports grounds by travellers. To this end we installed a high security padlock system at the site a number of years ago and Sonning Common Parish Council was fully aware of this.
“The dispute over locks on the main gates arose after the skate park was constructed with the council apparently happy with our padlock system until then.
“According to conversations we have had with the emergency services, they are not insisting that the club changes the locks and indeed don’t see that as their role.
“Ambulance staff arriving at a scene obtain access, if needed, with bolt cutters or use the air ambulance and presumably the same would happen here. Indeed it’s unlikely that a 5.5 tonne ambulance would even make it down to the skate park since there is no road access.”