Liversedge left in limbo by council

Liversedge left in limbo by council

THE FUTURE of North Kirklees’ highest-ranked football club remains unclear after a meeting with Kirklees councillors failed to leave any reassurances. 

Liversedge FC officials fear they are running out of time as access issues and out-dated facilities blight any potential of promotion or expansion.

The 104-year-old club has been hamstrung by poor access to their ground via Quaker Lane, which has resulted in several applications to improve the facilities at Clayborn being rejected.

Hopes were raised that a new housing development nearby could provide an access road to Clayborn up to Hightown Road.

Fields to the north and east of Laverhills and Quaker Lane were earmarked for hundreds of homes. However, the development was left off Kirklees Council’s draft Local Plan.

The FA have said that the club’s position in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division is not in jeopardy, but they will not be allowed to gain promotion due to their facilities.

Quaker Lane has potholes, lacks footpaths and has insufficient space to allow two emergency vehicles to pass.

The club has also been embroiled in a long-running row with residents, who have complained that the road becomes too congested on matchdays.

Club officials met with the leader of Kirklees, Coun David Sheard this week, along with Cleckheaton councillors.

Coun Sheard recommended the club hire a consultant to explore new access routes.

“My impression is that the club is becoming a victim of its own success,” he said.  “As they get better the football league demand more from them in terms of facilities. The current site has a real problem in terms of access. The club believe that these problems could be solved by a development in the green belt.

“The land that might deliver an access for them, was not accepted for development in the LDF proposals.

“We, the councillors, all agreed that the club is doing a great job, and that it would be a pity if they are held back through lack of facilities.”

Coun Sheard said that they would assist the club in applying for grants to hire a consultant.

However, club officials were left disappointed by Tuesday’s meeting.

Club president Bob Gawthorpe said: “We are running out of time. We have explored all of the possibilities for new access because Quaker Lane cannot be used.

“All of the volunteers who have given their time to supporting the community under the ideal that sport is good for society have been ignored. For over 50 years the club has provided a venue and not cost Kirklees a penny and this is the treatment it receives.”

A large number of junior teams and schools from the area use the facility on a regular basis.

If the club did fold it is unclear where they would be able to go.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin declared her support for them and stated she was hoping to find a solution to the dispute.

“I support Liversedge FC wholehearted and admire Bob enormously,” she said. “We have too few community activists like him, completely committed to supporting our young people.”

Ms Brabin said she hoped a solution could be found.

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