Council to decide on sports ground future

The Manor Action Group wants to maintain public access to the Manor Sports Ground
The Manor Action Group wants to maintain public access to the Manor Sports Ground

WORTHING Borough Council could hand the town’s new academy exclusive access to a public sports ground during school days at a crunch meeting tonight.

A report to councillors recommends disposing of the Manor Sports Ground, restricting public access while children attending the new Bohunt school use the facility.

The meeting follows months of campaigning on both sides from prospective parents and an action group keen to ensure public access remains at all times.

Councillors at the Joint Strategic Committee will have the final say at Adur Civic Centre, in Ham Road, Shoreham, at 6.30pm.

Keith Gurney, on behalf of the Manor Action Group, said: “Considering the importance of the issue, there are still large numbers of residents completely unaware that the council may decide to give away control of the Manor.

“We also feel that the promotion of one group of users above all of the other groups in the community is wrong.”

The report, prepared by council officers, reveals widespread support for Bohunt using the ground.

But 53 per cent objected to the academy having exclusive use during the school day.

The academy wants restricted access on health and safety grounds but remains happy for the public to be admitted after the school day, at evenings and weeekends.

The report’s rec-
ommendations have also received support from pro-Bohunt group, Friends of Bohunt School.

As well as the sports ground, Bohunt’s proposed use of the Queen Street car park has come under scrutiny this week.

A public drop-in session last Wednesday highlighted its wish to house temporary classrooms on the car park, while the school is built.

In the long term, it would be used as day time staff parking, with up to 20 spaces reserved for the community.

But many residents object, citing the car park as a key community asset, also relieving pressure on overcrowded streets.

Petitioner Catherine Bourner said the short and long-term impact had not been fully considered.

She said: “The short term plans for temporary classrooms in the car park have been poorly thought out.

“With no parking or drop- off zones available for the 450 children and staff, the busy roads surrounding the school will become overcrowded and hazardous.”

The double-decker Portakabins impressed lead FOBS parent James Ellis, however.

He said: “We knew there would be temporary modular accommodation and what was shown at the drop-in was very impressive.

“As for the temporary loss of the car park, it is just that,temporary, and they will be able to use it after this period.”

In a bid to explore alternatives, Worthing Borough Council met with Bohunt to discuss the potential for Palatine Park to house the temporary facilities.

Philip Avery, of Bohunt, said the idea was explored but was not ‘workable’, with parents also unsupportive.

He also said it had worked with suggestions from the public on the car park to ensure some public access.