Plans to increase the charge on Bute’s sports clubs for use of the artificial surface at Rothesay Joint Campus by more than 250 per cent have been approved by Argyll and Bute councillors.
The authority’s annual budget meeting, held in Lochgilphead on Thursday, approved a plan which will see the hourly rate for use of the full Rothesay surface rise from £15.27 per hour to £55 by 2018-19.
A 50 per cent discount will apply for groups of under-17s, and block bookings of ten or more sessions will not be subject to VAT.
Officials are to discuss the upgrade of the Rothesay surface to 3G standard - currently it is the only one of the council’s synthetic pitches not to be of a 3G quality, meaning it can’t be used for, among other things, SFA-approved football matches - but the increased charges were approved on Thursday without any firm commitment that the surface will be improved.
The increase is part of a set of proposals which will see a flat rate of £55 per hour charged for the whole of any of the council’s artificial pitches by 2018-19.
Council leader Dick Walsh asked that the proposals be considered along with the rest of the authority’s spending plans for 2015-16 - a request agreed to by the rest of the council.
Cllr Walsh later declared himself to be “disappointed at some of the parochial aspects of what has been raised” in the budget discussions, though he didn’t make clear whether he was specifically referring to the concerns raised about synthetic pitch hire charges.
The opposition SNP group put forward an amendment proposing a different scale of increased charges, with a maximum rate of £40 to be reached by 2018-19, but Cllr Walsh’s budget plans carried the day by 21 votes to 11.