Sports ground use compromise suggestion aired

Residents gather at the Manor Sports Ground on Sunday to show their support to the action group. SUS-141027-124030001
Residents gather at the Manor Sports Ground on Sunday to show their support to the action group. SUS-141027-124030001

A COMPROMISE over a new school’s potential use of a public sports ground has been tabled in the hope of concluding an ongoing debate.

The Manor Sports Ground, in Broadwater Road, could be fenced off during the school day when Bohunt Educational Trust opens Worthing’s new academy next year.

A consultation was launched by West Sussex County Council after concerns were raised by an action group, keen to ensure public access was maintained at all times.

Now, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Worthing West, Jim Deen, has suggested Bohunt use the ground exclusively during just two school days each week.

He said: “The local community is being asked to compromise a great deal and the academy is compromising very little on the sports facilities it would ideally want.

“I’m sure with careful timetabling they should be able to concentrate their need for all field sports activities for all year groups into two days.”

Three options were tabled at a consultation event in December, with varying degrees of restriction on using the ground. The Manor Action Group (MAG) was set up to protect public access but a counter-group, Friends of Bohunt School, has also been launched.

A spokesman for FOBS said: “Now is the time to find a compromise between the needs of the community and the needs of the academy, which has been chosen to educate our children.

“We wonder if there would be value in commissioning an independent study to validate the usage of the ground to ensure it is used to its full potential, while accommodating the needs of all. We believe Bohunt will be such a huge asset to Worthing - to its local economy and to the education of its children. A solution must be found for the good of our town.”

Keith Gurney, on behalf of MAG, said Mr Deen’s idea was ‘interesting’ but the real question was whether Bohunt would be interested in it.

He said the group had around 600 signatures on a petition to maintain access at all times.

In response to Mr Deen’s proposals, Phil Avery, director of learning and strategy at Bohunt, said the ground would be needed for more than two days per week and a solution was being sought. “Following our extensive engagement with local people who use the Manor Sports Ground regularly, we are working on plans that adapt the PE timetable not in terms of the number of days the ground is open to all, but with regards to the times it is open. This seems to better meet local people’s needs.”