ORRELL Mount field has been closed by Sefton Council in response to an ongoing protest by local residents who are trying to stop building work happening on the site.
The Champion reported last week how local residents parked their cars across the entrance to the park to deny access to lorries, which had arrived to deliver materials ahead of plans to build a 3G football pitch on the large field.
This went on for several days as locals also stood next to the park holding signs and placards in an effort to make their feelings known towards the council.
The protesters want the field to remain as it is, claiming it is popular with dog walkers, children’s football teams and is one of few greenspaces left in Litherland.
The local authority responded by closing the park on Wednesday, November 10, blaming “a pocket of public opposition to the plans.”
A spoksperson said: “This decision has not been taken lightly, however we need to ensure the ongoing safety of both demonstrators and our contractors.
“This closure will remain in place until works to install a 3G pitch, lighting and community safety provisions have been completed.”
Sefton Council received £780,000 funding from the Football Foundation to create the new football facility at Orrell Mount and this was added to around £350,000 of direct investment from the local authority.
Jamie Carragher’s 23 Foundation will be running the new facility when it is completed.
The council hit out at “misinformation” shared online about the project and defended the plan, claiming it will benefit the community.
They also reminded locals that there will still be space left on the field for dog walking.
A spokesperson for the council said: “We are aware of misinformation which has been shared online about the scheme and we have reiterated that key facilities will remain and even be improved, including dog walking facilities and a fully refurbished children’s playground."
Full backing has been given to the scheme by the Liverpool County FA, as well local grassroots football teams such as Northfield Juniors.
Tony Smith, Football Development Manager at the Liverpool County FA, added: “There is a huge shortfall of match play on 3G pitches and having this facility in the heart of the community will not only develop better grassroots players but also develop better social outcomes to combat obesity, improve health and wellbeing, while also tackling anti-social behaviour.”
Rachel Stevenson, Welfare Officer for Bootle’s Northfield Junior’s Football Club, said the team can’t wait to play on the pitch.
She said: “Historically in the winter months we have found real difficulties and challenges to get our kids access to proper training facilities.
“This will be our first opportunity to keep players within the local community and allow them to train closer to their homes.
“We are a registered charity so this scheme will also allow us to keep our costs down and allow us to pass this back on to our members so our football remains completely inclusive to everyone in the local community.”
A Sefton Council spokesperson reiterated these comments, adding: “Any surplus made from operating the facility will be put back in to the community.
“Throughout this process to provide significantly improved health and wellbeing provisions for football players of all abilities and ages, Sefton Council has endeavoured to work closely with members of the local community and has acted on some of the concerns expressed.”