Footballers fear they could be priced out of using Peckham pitches

By Peter Lane

A group of residents fear they could be priced out of using their much-loved artificial football pitches.

Southwark council is preparing a second consultation into plans to redevelop the pitches, in Brimmington Park, Peckham, which would see a pay-to-play scheme introduced.

But many of the people who use the pitches in their current form feel the cost could be too high for many locals.

Abraham Ramirez said that he feared that the managed nature of the pitches will mean that they will not be free to use out of regular hours, and that the cost of normal hours would price him and his friends out of the game.

He said: “We come here to play and have fun after work and I hope they don’t close it. Imagine if all of us want to play for an hour and when the football court was closed.

“It’s a neighbourhood where we don’t have much money. Without money people won’t be able to come”

The proposed developments of the pitches form part of Southwark council’s plans to provide high quality football pitches and will include the implementation of a pay-to-play booking system, along with the resurfacing of the pitches, a reception centre, and landscaping of the park’s green space.

Residents raised initial concerns in December last year over limiting access to the pitches as a consequence of the pay-to-play system that the development management would implement.

The council’s second consultation on the Brimmington development, ending on September 27, seeks to address concerns by introducing a proposed schedule for the pitches that outlines time for booking free play and time allocated specifically for local area clubs.

But residents think they haven’t done enough.

Alex Beard, who also lives locally, said that despite council efforts the time allotted for free booking-less play will still severely limit the amount of time school children can get on the pitches.

He said: “They’re not going to get down there until 3.30pm. It’s going to take you some time to get  down there. So after 3.30pm, you get half an hour. But that also could be available to hire anyway.”

As a regular user of the park, Mr Beard raised his concerns that the redevelopment had been brought about deliberately.

He added: It’s almost like it’s been deliberately run down because they took up the surface to one of the pitches about six months ago and just haven’t put it down, it just got lifted and now it’s just concrete and so now it’s rubbish. It’s almost like it is a managed decline”

Local councillor Rebecca Lury, cabinet member for culture, leisure, equalities and communities, refused to comment on the planned schedule but called on local residents to take part in the consultation.

She said: “We are currently reaching out to local people and inviting them to influence improvements to Brimmington Park, by responding to our consultation.

“The project is in its very early stages and although we’ve shared some idea of a possible look and feel, nothing is decided yet.

“We are especially interested in working with anyone who currently uses the space and would ask that they take part in our consultation.

“This will help us to understand their needs and involve them in any ongoing conversations; as we work through the specifics of the project with stakeholders, over the coming months.”

Pictured top, from left: Alexandro Ribera, Caton Cobo, Michael Ronaldo, Abraham Ramirez, Luis Vela, Saul Sarcillo

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