Published: 07/05/2017 08:55 - Updated: 02/05/2017 11:49

Army turn down public request to use training pitch

A LOCAL football club’s request to use a nearby sports facility has been turned down.

The all-weather playing surface at Kinloss is only available to Forces-run clubs.
The all-weather playing surface at Kinloss is only available to Forces-run clubs.

39 Royal Engineer Regiment refused a request from Forres Mechanics to train on the all-weather, floodlit pitch at Kinloss barracks during winter months.

Mechanics’ senior and youth teams have been training nomads for years as Forres is one of the only towns in Moray with neither an all-weather pitch, nor a floodlit grass area for community use.

Youth Development committee member, Ann Ewing, suggested that Kinloss could provide a solution, as RAF Kinloss allowed use of the facility to clubs from all over the area.

She said: “We initially approached the army last Autumn. Our request was refused with a suggestion that matters might be different in the spring.”

The club approached the army for a second time recently, offering to pay the required rates for the facility and committing to meeting all of the insurance, health and safety and licensing criteria. Unfortunately, they were knocked back for a second time.

“The army’s decision is surprising and very disappointing,” said Youth Development lead coach, Charlie Brown. “We were particularly shocked by the new stumbling block offered – they now say that any local club wishing to use the facility must have a minimum of 50 per cent Armed Forces’ or Service families’ membership. How many Forres clubs are ever likely to have half their numbers in the army or RAF? 

“It looks like the youth squads may have to continue travelling to Nairn to train next season ... and the first team going as far as Aviemore!”

In June 2014, An army spokesperson confirmed that, unless there are special circumstances, the pitches, sports hangar and gym - all formally shared with civilians at RAF Kinloss - are open to 39 Engineer Regiment only.

The Gazette asked for an update. An army spokeswoman replied:

“We receive a number of requests like this and we have had to take the decision to limit use to clubs which are Forces-run. The limitation is for a number of reasons, not least management, upkeep and care of the pitch itself; the commitment involved with opening, closing and inspecting the pitch after every use; and the risk associated with opening the pitch up to members of the public in terms of personal liability.”

She added: “We recognise that this is disappointing for clubs such as Forres Mechanics, but we have encouraged them to help us support them by keeping us updated with any training or membership opportunities which may be of interest to our families.”

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