School stands firm as sports clubs voice disappointment over hiring ban

Laurence Reilly, (centre), Executive Head Teacher of the South Lincolnshire Academies Trust, with Tracey Berry, Karen Joel, Nicola Hall-Rushton, Liz Dilley, Brett Sinclair, Rebecca Le Caplain, Daisy Ivatt and James Hind at Spalding Academy.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG110117-102TW.
Laurence Reilly, (centre), Executive Head Teacher of the South Lincolnshire Academies Trust, with Tracey Berry, Karen Joel, Nicola Hall-Rushton, Liz Dilley, Brett Sinclair, Rebecca Le Caplain, Daisy Ivatt and James Hind at Spalding Academy. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG110117-102TW.
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Spalding Academy leaders have confirmed plans to stop allowing sports clubs to use the school for training and matches.

Archery, cycling, football and trampolining clubs have all been told to look for new sites to train and play after South Lincolnshire Academies Trust (SLAT) said their use of Spalding Academy would end on September 1.

Gary Bentley, secretary of Spalding Cycling Club.  Photo by Tim Bryett.

Gary Bentley, secretary of Spalding Cycling Club. Photo by Tim Bryett.

The decision was revealed by our sister newspaper, the Lincolnshire Free Press, last Tuesday, with sports club branding it “a kick in the teeth” and “a bombshell”.

Gary Bentley, secretary of Spalding Cycling Club, said: “For some years now we have hosted a round of the burgeoning Lincolnshire Cyclo-Cross League at the school which last year attracted around 300 competitors from all over the county and further afield.

“Our two youth races in 2016 involved around 70 boys and girls aged from four to 16, so it is particularly sad and disappointing that we have been turned away by the school.

“We will genuinely struggle to find an alternative venue as the other options in the town already have regular users on Sundays.”

We didn’t use the all-weather pitch, we didn’t require any staff assistance on the day and the cyclo-cross event was on a Sunday when the students aren’t in attendance

Gary Bentley, secretary of Spalding Cycling Club

In a statement, Helen Lewis, operations manager for Spalding Academy, said: “Since becoming SLAT on September 1, 2016, we have reviewed the letting policy and procedures at the Spalding site.

“A number of issues have arisen but we have waited until now to make a final decision to ensure we understand and consider all of them.

“As from September 1, we will not be letting out any part of the site on a regular basis.

“There are numerous reasons for this decision, including the condition of the all-weather pitch which, a recent survey has shown, is in a significantly poor condition.

“Areas of the pitch do not drain sufficiently, allowing sand to collect in these areas and thus making them slippery, while other areas of the pitch have tears and gaps which cause trip hazards.

“Safeguarding is another serious issue that the school must consider as, while lettings are on site, we are unable to ensure the safeguarding of any students which we may have on it.

“Equally, we do not have a secure site when lettings are in (place) and there is also additional pressure placed upon site staff when lettings take place.

“The priority of SLAT is the education of the students whilst they are under our care and we feel this is best met by discontinuing lettings.”

But Gary responded: “We didn’t use the all-weather pitch, we didn’t require any staff assistance on the day and the event was on a Sunday when the students aren’t in attendance.

“So we are baffled by the reasons given by SLAT as the school field was an ideal venue for cyclo-cross which is an off-road event where riders can compete on all-terrain courses, safe from contact with road vehicles.”

• What do you think of SLAT’s decision? Email your views to jeremy.ransome@iliffepublishing.co.uk

Spalding Academy gives sports clubs notice to quit