Saintfield facilities good news for area

SIR, — I was contacted recently by a ratepayer who expressed concern about ongoing work to provide a new synthetic sports pitch at The Demesne in Saintfield.

The ratepayer expressed “disgust” at the work as a number of trees had to be chopped down. I was informed this part of the town is popular with people who walk their dogs. The ratepayer said the new pitch a waste of money and would not be used.

The person who contacted me suggested the money would be better spent elsewhere. I could not disagree more. As an elected representative for the Rowallane area, I am more than happy to say I lobbied, along with others, for this much-needed sports facility.

The synthetic pitch is replacing a former shale pitch which has passed its sell-by-date and one which hockey’s governing body has deemed to be unsuitable for certain games, in particular cup matches.

Saintfield Hockey Club and other sports clubs in the town and surrounding area have been lobbying for new pitches in an area where there has been no major local authority investment.

Work is also due to start shortly on a new sports and community centre at a former industrial site at the Belfast Road. As part of this development, there was an opportunity to draw down funding for the new synthetic pitch at The Demesne which can be used by a range of clubs.

As part of these exciting new development plans, there was extensive public consultation and meetings to ensure everyone was not only aware of what was being proposed, but had a key input into the development process.

I wonder if the ratepayer who contacted me attended any of the public meetings or indeed took part in the consultation process? What is being provided in Saintfield is what local people want, as evidenced by the outcome of the consultation process.

I am not ashamed to say I supported the provision of the new pitch and the community and sports centre and look forward to the completion of both projects. They will provide a major boost for sports clubs and community groups across the town and indeed further afield.

I have no doubt there are many areas where people can walk their dogs in Saintfield, but I recall recent concern expressed by cricket club officials about dogs being allowed to foul the square and outfield area. This is something no one wants to see.

Developing new sports and community facilities in Saintfield is positive news for the town. They should not impact on dog walkers and, above all, these projects represent value for money and investing in the people of Saintfield which is long overdue.

Yours etc,