"End of the Beginning" for South Acton Sports Provision

Locals request better maintenance for local facilities

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A large group of Ealing Council officers, local councillors, a head teacher and football coaches all met at the Oaktree Centre this week to discuss problems with facilities for young people on the South Acton Estate.

Cllr John Gallagher, who had asked for the meeting, decided it would be more helpful to meet on site than sitting in an office looking at plans.

The Ealing Council officers were represented by Marcella Phelan, assistant director of Children's Services, Elaine Cunningham, Head of Youth & Connections, Steve Marshall, Head of Parks, Leon Joseph, Ealing Homes' Regeneration Manager and Andy Macintosh, Head of South Acton Tenancy Team. Residents were represented by Steve Flynn of Acton Community Forum, Mrs Lubna Khan - Head of Berrymede Junior School and David Murphy - Berrymede School Football Coach, Huey Reid -Coach for Bollo United and the coach of South Acton FCs, Chris Edwards and another coach from Brentford FC and the Head of Acton Extended Schools.

All those present looked at Oaktree Centre from the outside, visited the playing field, South Park, the small picnic and basketball site and finished by having tea and a discussion at Bollo Youth Club.

We have written in previous months (see link, above right) about the problems facing Bollo United and Berrymede School. Locals have commented that a more decent provision of facilities for young people will help to keep them off the streets.

After the meeting, Cllr Gallagher commented: "Needless to say, the main problem is not knowing what the long-term future for the area is because of the regeneration proposals and delays, which means the officers do not want to commit funding for more than three years unless they are certain the facilities will remain longer."

"I was pressing for adequate changing rooms and proper maintenance of the fields as the immediate short-term solution. The football teams were interested in close alternative locations. They also mentioned problems with transporting equipment.

"However, a wide range of short term solutions and possible long-term options is going to be considered and everyone is now in contact, having met together, so that in itself has cleared the air and been useful.

Cllr Gallagher said: "I hope this is the end of the beginning".

His views were echoed by Huey Reid, Coach for Bollo United, who told us he felt very positive after the meeting: "I think if we can get the improvements we have asked for it will be beneficial for everyone involved. There is lots more to discuss, but I am hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Everyone involved hopes the situation will soon improve. Schoolchildren and football players are all having to travel to alternative venues in order to practise and play sport.

November 28, 2008