Councillor calls for higher standard of hockey pitch for Madras College

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St Andrews councillor, Brian Thomson, has suggested that the potential for providing a 2G synthetic sand-dressed pitch at Station Park should be looked at, as a means of addressing the shortfall in provision for hockey in North East Fife. The suggestion has been made following Fife Council’s confirmation that the new Madras College will have two 3G pitches, which are only suitable for competitive hockey for pupils up to S3.

One pitch will measure 124m x 78m and will suitable for football, rugby and other sports, and will cost £805,000, and the other will measure 106m x 66m and will be suitable for football, hockey (up to S3) and other sports, and will cost £580,000.

Fife Council recently released the following public statement regarding the pitches, and it was read out at the meeting of Madras Parent Council on 30th October: “As you will know building work has already begun on a replacement school for Madras at the North Haugh site.  We have been consulting with staff since 2018 to make sure that the new building best meets the needs of all who use the school.  All school staff were either represented or directly involved in discussions, as were representatives from Community Use.  Pupils, parents and other stakeholders were involved in the engagement process.  As expected, the process led to many discussions, requests and compromises”.

“An initial plan for the school had included a sand-dressed pitch (2G) and a long pile pitch (3G) as part of the proposed sports facilities, however, following full consultation the revised plans now include a 3G and 4G pitch”.

“We have been asked why the new school will not include a sand-dressed pitch”.

“First of all, the school itself does not need a sand-dressed pitch in order to fully deliver the PE Curriculum and this includes being able to include hockey as a preference.  A new 3G pitch can be used for this along with the grass pitches at Station Park.  The school will also have access to the University sand-dressed pitch and their 3G pitch (both adjacent to the new school site)”.

‘This is in line with Education Scotland’s “Building the Curriculum” and the associated document “Benchmarks for Physical Education – March 2017”.  The school will continue to offer a wide range of activities and this would include hockey as a preference.  The school has always complied fully with SQA assessment specifications for all pupil selected activities and can continue to do so without the need for a sand-dressed pitch’.

“Consultation with colleagues in community education also noted that, in their experience, there is little demand from the community for a 2G pitch.  It was felt that a 4G pitch would be far more useful. The artificial pitches which are being installed at Madras are multi-functional to give the broadest access to a range of sports.  Madras is a Community Use school and we will welcome the community to continue to use the facilities in the usual way.”

(Note: Although the term is often used, there is currently no such thing as a 4G pitch and, in this case, it’s used to describe one of the 3G pitches that will have a longer pile that’s suitable for rugby, football and other sports).

Cllr Thomson responded: “I appreciate the concerns that have been expressed by parents of children who play hockey, and the wider local hockey community, however, the decision on the types of pitch was a decision for Madras College to take, and the school has clearly explained its position that two 3G pitches better deliver the curriculum, have better availability during cold weather – it’s usually only snow that prevents use, which is not the case with 2G pitches – and are anticipated to be in greater demand for community use which, ultimately, should mean more people participating in sport”.

“The provision of two synthetic pitches, at a total cost of £1.385m, will address a huge shortage of such facilities in the St Andrews area, and whilst the new Madras College would ideally have three synthetic pitches – two 3G and one 1G – funding and land availability is limited, and the best use has to be made of the resources available”.

“Given that the decision on pitch provision has been made, I’m of the view that the development of a community 2G pitch at Station Park is worth pursuing.  Whilst Madras College will have access to Station Park, it’s not required to deliver the curriculum, and there is more than enough available space without compromising any of the rugby that takes place there.

“Fife Council is not in a position to fund such a facility, but it may be possible to source funding from a variety of external sources, and a sports facilities consultancy is providing me with an indicative cost for a 2G pitch, floodlights and fencing”.

“I’m fully aware that such a facility would be expensive, and I appreciate that seeking to provide it is extremely ambitious, but I think that it’s worth having a go.  If anyone would like to assist in pursuing this proposed community project, please contact me directly.”

Cllr Thomson can be contacted via e-mail – cllr.brian.thomson@fife.gov.uk.

St Andrews Q.V.

St Andrews QV (Qui Vive) is an independent not-for-profit, non-political platform for news and debates about issues that are important to the Town. It exists to hold decision makers and public services to account while its editorial policy is to accommodate all shades of opinion from all parts of the community, prioritising evidence-based arguments. St Andrews QV is a member of the Independent Community News Network and is committed to the Community Journalism Charter

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