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Website last updated: 15 Mar, 2015 @ 19:43

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Article from Witney Gazette 3/4/2013 3 Apr, 2013

CONTROVERSIAL plans to sell a sports ground in Witney look set to be reversed next week, in favour of improving the site.

Witney Town Council’s current policy is to sell West Witney Sports Ground to developers, with the £7m proceeds being used to pay for a replacement site on the edge of the town at Downs Road and improve other sports facilities.

But a motion will be put to members by councillor Ben Woodruff at a meeting on Monday to scrap the proposal and instead invest in the existing ground.
He hopes developer funding, grants and money held in council reserves could be combined to allow £500,000 to be spent creating a sports hub for the town.

Mr Woodruff said: “When I joined the council a couple of years ago, I was quite shocked to discover that the sports ground was up for sale. I feel the town deserves to have more green space and areas for people to use for recreation and for kids to play.”

He said he would like to see the current sports and social club demolished and a new one built.

The council will receive £250,000 designated for sports facilities from the 1,000-home Witney West development approved last month and has about £200,000 held in its reserves that is allocated for sports projects.

He added: “Once the motion is in place, hopefully it means we can proactively go forward, user groups can negotiate new leases and that will then potentially open up funding through their governing bodies.

“I would love to see a thriving sports and social club that is accessed by many different groups and teams, similar to how it was when I was growing up.

“I would like to see something new and fresh built and something that’s a real asset to this part of Witney.”

His motion proposes: “The town council immediately withdraw the policy to sell West Witney Sports Ground and will proactively explore the various options available to improve the current site.”

West Witney Cricket Club secretary Steve Hyatt said: “It could be very exciting times at West Witney.

“Obviously there are hurdles to get though and I will wait until all the Is are dotted and the Ts crossed, but it’s very, very good news.

“If the plans had gone through to move the ground, it would have killed it off.

“I don’t think it could have survived on an out-of-town site.”

Liam Walsh, of West Witney Users Group, said: “We welcome any plans to safeguard the future of West Witney, and look forward to working to improve sports facilities for our hundreds of users.

“This is an opportunity to consider the long-term sporting requirements of all ages and I hope we can look beyond short-term sticking plasters for our outdated facilities.”

The council will debate the motion at a meeting starting at 7pm on Monday at Witney Town Hall.

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