School blaze puts sports pitch use deal in jeopardy

Much of Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College was destroyed by the fire last year, including the sport changing rooms
Much of Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College was destroyed by the fire last year, including the sport changing rooms
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An 18-year partnership between a Leyland high school and the council looks set to be terminated.

Since 1996, an arrangement has been in place between Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College and South Ribble Council over the use of some of the school’s sport pitches.

The ‘Dual Use Agreement’ related to the operation and maintenance of the artificial turf pitch and changing rooms, so that members of the wider community could use the facilities.

However, the large fire at the school in September last year destroyed the changing rooms.

The blaze resulted in the ‘temporary’ closure of the pitches, but the site still remains closed to the Leisure Partnership operation.

According to a new council report, it is now recommended that the council removes Leyland St Mary’s artificial turf pitch from the Leisure Partnership, and ‘to negotiate withdrawal from the Dual Use Agreement and complete a Deed of Termination’.

But the council has also expressed concern at the loss of the community facility, and the cabinet committee is set to discuss the matter at a meeting on Wednesday.

Coun Phil Smith, South Ribble Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, leisure and healthy communities, explained: “The pitches have been run jointly with St Mary’s since 1996.

“Unfortunately, the changing rooms were destroyed in the blaze and the pitches had to close. Employees have since been redeployed to other leisure centres, and talks are underway about its future.

“Our priority would be to work with St Mary’s to ensure the pitches remain a community facility, that can be enjoyed by all residents of South Ribble.”

The school wants to have direct operation and control of the pitches in the first instance, and look to expand community use to other school buildings as the redevelopment of the site takes shape. It is hoped that the pitches will become available for community use again in January.