Trust in talks with would-be user groups about obtaining an all-weather pitch for Forres
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A LOBBY group is promoting the aspiration of building an artificial playing playing surface in Forres.
Over the last year, Forres Community Football Trust (FCFT) - made up of football facility-users - have met around six times to discuss getting an all-weather pitch for the only town in Moray without one.
FCFT chairman, Graeme Sutherland, said: "Recent discussions with officers from Moray Council proved both useful and enlightening. Whilst there are, as always, some quite significant barriers in place when scoping a project of this scale, there was enough positivity in the room to allow some movement in the right direction."
In 2007, Moray Council’s Education and Social Services Committee approved the Natural Grass and Synthetic Turf Pitches Strategy to develop a 2G pitch at Elgin Academy and 3G pitches at Buckie, Keith, Speyside, Forres and Elgin High secondary schools.
Forres remains the only town in the region without but, to date, £46,000 has been secured by the local authority for the facility from developer obligations, with £77,000 expected to be received from larger developments within the area in the future.
Chairman of the Planning and Regulatory Services committee, Councillor David Bremner, said: "Developer obligations play in an important role in providing valuable services for local residents by contributing to local infrastructure, education, healthcare or, in this instance, the creation of a 3G football pitch. I’m pleased to hear significant contributions have been secured which bring the realisation of the pitch much closer."
A proposed plan identifies Roysvale Park as a location, given its proximity to Forres Academy.
In 2018, chairwoman of Forres Community Sports Hub Ann Rossiter estimated that the pitch would cost around £700,000 and annual maintenance about £10,000.
She said then: "The second biggest town in the region could use new facilities. Having an all-weather facility pitch around Forres Academy would lend itself to being an outdoor classroom, would also benefit Applegrove Primary School and the wider sporting community here."
Meanwhile, Elgin Sports Community Trust is looking to build a floodlit, all-weather sports surface on Common Good land at Lesser Borough Briggs via the Scottish Government's Community Asset Transfer (CAT) scheme.
Moray Council confirmed it has seven full-sized grass pitches and one 3G pitch available for public use already.
An ESCT spokesperson pointed out: "Evidence suggests that this is clearly not enough to meet the demand of sports teams and clubs as they are still having to travel to Aviemore, Aberlour, Keith, Buckie or seek arrangements with RAF Lossiemouth to train or fulfil sporting fixtures."
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