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Barlows Park in Tadley alive and kicking - for now
TADLEY’S main sports complex is safe – for now – after town councillors voted to continue funding Barlows Park to the tune of £7,000.
Tadley councillors voted eight to two in favour of agreeing the annual grant, which will go towards maintenance of the sports complex and playing fields in Silchester Road.
The councillors heard from Andy Sebbage, vice-chairman of Tadley Calleva youth section, which uses the facility, and Cllr Tony Flahive, who is part of Barlows Park Management Association, before beginning their discussions.
Mr Sebbage pleaded with the councillors to make the annual grant, saying: “It is a lovely facility and needs to be kept going but I don’t see why we (the users) should be expecting to fund it – we are just renting it.”
He said clubs using the facility paid the going rate and should not be expected to pay more.
Speaking as a member of the public, Cllr Flahive said: “I am imploring my fellow councillors to look upon this application favourably...there is a desperate need for repairs.
But Cllr John Moss said the facility had not fulfilled its original purpose of becoming a multi-sport complex and argued it should not be solely concentrating on football.
Cllr Mike Broad raised concerns about the financial viability of the complex, saying: “Last year there was a deficit of £4,000...Looking at the accounts it would not take a financial genius to see they are going nowhere.”
Cllr Adrian Noad said the income Barlows Park could generate was fixed and the pavilion might be unused if funding ended. He said: “If we do not fund it we have a white elephant. The grass will grow.”
Barlows Park is a £1.5million not-for-profit facility which was set up by the Tadley and District Recreation Scheme Partnership – which brought together Barlows Plantation Environmental Trust, Tadley Town Council and the borough council.
Funding from the Football Foundation got the project underway, combined with funding from other recreation scheme members.
It was built on land donated by local business the John Stacey Group and is run by volunteers.
Eight councillors voted in favour of a recommendation made by Cllr Sue Mullan – to give the club the grant in full and to work with Barlows Park Management Association, which runs the facility, to see whether a reduction in the grant for the following year could be achieved.
Cllr Broad and Cllr Moss voted against the recommendation.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Sebbage welcomed the decision.
He said: “I’m very glad they have made it – it is a great place which needs support.”
The town council has helped to fund the facility since it opened in 2007.