- Peebles FC is pushing for the construction of a 3G pitch at Victoria Park
- This feeling has been enhanced at the recent flooding that has hit the area.
- Blair Meikle spoke to U14’s manager, Fergus Millan.
There has been much debate in Peebles recently as to whether construction of the pitch in Victoria Park should go ahead. Many locals feel that it would be destruction of a precious green space, while others think that it would be an important addition to sporting facilities.
The Borders town was among the worst hit by the recent Storm Frank and the grass pitches at Kerfield and Whitesone Park did not escape.
Peebles FC Under 14’s manager Fergus Millan reckons that recent flooding in the town has further highlighted the need for a 3G facility.
Millan explained: “The flood at the New Year was something else. Locals said that they had never seen the water that high up on Kerfield. What made it worse was the fact that the ground was already saturated due to the heavy rainfall during November and December.
“I don't think any of the local clubs have managed a game at home since November 1. The only away games my team have played were on 3G. There is no doubt that if we had access to a 3G pitch we would have played several more games. Instead we are going to have a pile up of games at the end of the season. Three or four games a week is not good for the kids.”
Several homes and other buildings in the town such as the swimming pool and a nursing home were adversely affected. Millan revealed that the club were also left counting the cost and that it was not only the pitches that suffered.
“Our huts and changing rooms were also hit by the flood. The water was around three to four feet deep. Compared to home owners who were affected we don't really have much to complain about as most of the kit is for outdoor use. But they still need to be cleaned up and internal wooden doors replaced.”
Opponents of the current plans for a 3G have launched a ‘Save Victoria Park’ campaign and argue that a more suitable venue should be sought. Scottish Borders Council have already discounted Kerfield and Whitestone Parks as well as the nearby Gytes rugby pitch due to flood risk. Recent events seem to have vindicated such a decision.
“Everyone would have preferred to have the 3G at the Gytes, but even before the first consultation we knew that it was unlikely to get the go ahead there because of the risk of flooding”, continued Fergus.
“So I think this has confirmed in people's minds that the 3G cannot go at the Gytes.
“Those of us who have been around the discussions and consultations understand why the council is considering Victoria Park. It probably seems to some like the location choice has come out of the blue, when in reality it hasn't.
“I think the Council have a tough decision but there are so few options open to them. The 3G facility is not just important for the local community in terms of having the best facilities possible, it also makes sense as it provides so much more potential for managing the capacity that a growing town like Peebles needs.
“Fundamentally I think Peebles needs a 3G pitch, and I believe most people in Peebles see it is a boost to the local community.”
The council are pressing ahead with the planning process and the deadline for comments was January 8. These are being considered before a final decision is made. Whatever the outcome, one part of the population of Peebles is going to be disappointed.