Rothesay 3G pitch pledge in hire cost row

The Rothesay Joint Campus artificial surface is the only one under Argyll and Bute Council's control which is not of a 3G standard.
The Rothesay Joint Campus artificial surface is the only one under Argyll and Bute Council's control which is not of a 3G standard.

Rothesay is first in line to receive a new 3G synthetic pitch in Argyll and Bute - although it could be two years away from being installed.

The commitment was made at a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s policy and resources committee in Lochgilphead on Thursday - after The Buteman revealed a plan to increase the hire charge in Rothesay by 250 per cent over four years.

Members of the committee agreed that a proposal to charge a flat rate for all the authority’s artificial pitches should be referred to the full council for approval.

The current cost of hiring the Rothesay Joint Campus pitch - the only one in Argyll and Bute which is not of a ‘3G’ standard, and thus cannot be used for, for example, competitive adult football matches - is £15.27 an hour, but the council wants to increase that in stages until all artificial surfaces cost £55 an hour to hire by 2018-19.

The proposal attracted a storm of protest when we revealed it on our website on Thursday; among the critics was Bute Shinty Club player Bob McKechnie, who pointed out: “They can’t expect local clubs to pay the same as other places when our pitch isn’t of the same standard.”

Bute councillor Len Scoullar, who sits on the committee in question, told The Buteman an undertaking had been given at Thursday’s meeting that Rothesay Joint Campus would be next in line for an upgrade to its artificial pitch.

“I was advised the next new pitch to be provided will be in Rothesay, and that it will be a minimum 3G standard,” he said.

“I was also advised that there are discounts available - a 50 per cent charge applies for under-17s, and additionally any club which books ten or more slots at a time does not pay VAT.”

The cost of hiring a synthetic pitch from the council currently varies widely across the area - from £15.27 an hour in Rothesay and Dunoon to £23.70 in Helensburgh, £49.35 in Lochgilphead and Campeltown and £57.95 in Oban.