Call to clear overgrown paths at Wigan playing fields

Hindley ARLFC decided to lock down and restrict public access to its fields and pitches at St Peter’s Pavillion

Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:28 am
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:30 am

A row has erupted over the use of an amateur rugby league club’s playing fields which have been the subject of anti-social behaviour.

Hindley ARLFC decided to lock down and restrict public access to its fields and pitches at St Peter’s Pavillion.

There have been several reports of underage drinking, littering and other problems with anti-social behaviour on the site.

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Coun Paul Blay on the overgrown footpath with years of growth of trees and bushes blocking the right of way, near Hindley Rugby League Club

One particularly horrific incident saw children from the club left “shocked and shaken” after finding a “semi-conscious” man on the pitch before a training session.

The youngsters came across the man, who had been vomiting, on the grounds of the club earlier this month.

It prompted the club to take the action they have, with it saying it has received “numerous enquiries” about public access to the site.

Although walkers cannot use the fields, the club is allowing them to use footpaths on the side of the site.

However, one path is overgrown and the other is blocked completely, sparking calls for something to be done.

Councillors Paul Blay and Jim Talbot said they were in discussions with Wigan Council to get paths one and three cleared.

They said this will allow public access to the outside perimeter of the field.

Coun Blay said: “There’s been a lot of anti-social behaviour on the site and some quite serious incidents over the last few weeks.

“Kids have been drinking and doing what they do. So the club decided to stop people from using the fields, it was a hard decision but they had to protect the club and public.

“There is an issue with the public rights of way on the side of the site not being passable and overgrown.

“Path three is just passable but not very good but path one is completely overgrown.

“We’ve met with the club and the police at the pavilion to discuss it and with the council.”

Barry Taylor, director of the club, said the situation was out of the club’s control and that it was the council’s responsibility to get the paths cleared.

He said: “We have not blocked any right of way and certainly don’t intend doing so, however following further inspection and various communications, both path one and path three are overgrown, indeed path one is blocked completely.

“We have spoken to our local councillors who are speaking to the council to get these paths cleared for everyone’s enjoyment.

“This is out of our control and all enquiries should be made to the council to get this resolved, the upkeep of the rights of way are not the rugby club’s responsibility.

“As a gesture of goodwill the club are willing to allow anyone wishing to use the public footpaths but can’t because they are blocked to come on site, sticking to the border or as close to the path as possible.

“Please respect this and do not wonder onto the fields and certainly don’t let dogs wonder off onto the fields.

“There is a gap at the junction of path three and path one and a gap at the opposite end of path one to cross the hockey brook.”

He said that locking down the site was a “last resort” and not a decision taken lightly.

He added: “The safety of our players and the wellbeing of our neighbours had to be our priority. We feel we are very much part of the Hindley community and would like to thank all the positive supportive messages we have

received,

“For those that still feel aggrieved we would ask you take some time to consider our position.”

Wigan Council said it was aware of the issue.

The authority added that Streetscene Services are currently assessing the work requirements for getting public footpaths Hindley number one and three cut back and cleared

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