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Rethink urged on football plan

PUBLISHED: 19:40 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:03 07 July 2010

Pressure is growing on civic leaders to reconsider a decision that scuppered a £1m football development in Thetford.

Sports leaders spoke of their disappointment earlier this year after town councillors voted against applying to deregister some common land for eight new pitches, training area, and changing rooms.

Pressure is growing on civic leaders to reconsider a decision that scuppered a £1m football development in Thetford.

Sports leaders spoke of their disappointment earlier this year after town councillors voted against applying to deregister some common land for eight new pitches, training area, and changing rooms.

A petition has now been formed calling on Thetford Town Council to vote again on proposals for the playing field area of Barnham Cross Common, next to Charles Burrell High School.

Local resident Dawn Burke, who is co-ordinating the campaign, says that local members failed to consider the views of the majority of townsfolk when deciding against attempting to deregister and fence off the common land for the development, which would have had the financial support of the Football Association.

The 40-year-old, whose son plays for Thetford Bulldogs, needs to get five per cent of the Thetford electorate - approximately 1,500 people - to sign the 'Football for Barnham Common petition' to get the town council to look again at the issue.

Mrs Burke said the young and old deserved the opportunity to play grassroots football in the town and a protective covenant could be issued on the area to return it to common land if the sports facility could not be sustained.

“I have lived in Thetford all my life and the problem is that there are no facilities in the town. A lot of the town councillors need to get into the 21st century. They are living in the dark ages and holding Thetford back,” she said.

Mrs Burke added that many local footballers in their late 30s and early 40s would have played on Barnham Cross Common in the past and the petition had already received a few hundred signatures.

But Thelma Paines, Thetford deputy major, said the town council took its custodianship of public property very seriously and they were not stopping footballers from using the land. However, the common would not be open to everyone if it was deregistered and fenced off for footballers, she said.

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