Council says it is ‘fully committed’ to sports village project amid concern from clubs

Huntingdon Town Hall, home to the town council.

Huntingdon Town Hall, home to the town council. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon Town Council has insisted that a major new sports development will go ahead in the town.

Huntingdon Town Football Club chairman Doug McIlwain, left, with secretary Russell Yezek,

Huntingdon Town Football Club chairman Doug McIlwain, left, with secretary Russell Yezek, - Credit: Archant

The authority has underlined it’s commitment to the project - which is set to bring together six clubs from different sports - after Huntingdon Town Football Club chairman Doug McIlwain said he expected it to be shelved . . . for the next few years at least.

The new sports hub is set to feature six clubs from five different sports in total - Huntingdon Rowdies junior football club, Huntingdon Rugby Club, Huntingdon Hockey Club, Hawks Netball Club and the Jolly Archers - on a site next to the current Jubilee Park home of Town, which was due to be turned into a crematorium.

But, as reported by the Hunts Post recently, the plans have been revised with the crematorium now set to be housed on a nearby field instead - and McIlwain fears that could make the sports hub a non-starter.

He said: “I’d have thought this project to bring sporting clubs together and vastly improve the facilities in the town would have been championed, but it seems we’re being held back by bureaucracy.

“The stick in the ointment, as far as I’m aware, is Sport England saying new grass pitches have to be ready before the club can leave Jubilee Park, but there is not the timescale for that to happen.

“I fail to understand the thinking behind that as we could move the club any time we wanted in theory, but I’m led to believe that is the reason why the crematorium plans have been revised to include a different site.

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“There are only two years’ worth of grave spaces left in the town so time is obviously of the essence with regard to the crematorium, but the latest plans are a disappointment to me - and no doubt to the other sporting clubs as well.

“I will not give up on this and I will keep working closely with the council to try to make it happen, but I fear there are other projects of a greater priority currently. I’ll be happily surprised if it does happen, but I’m not hopeful.”

However, clerk Philip Peacock, has responded by reaffirming the town council’s desire to see the sports hub go ahead once the crematorium is up and running, should it be approved.

He said: “The original application was for a cemetery, crematorium and sports village but because of the issue of having the sports pitches ready, which takes two years before they can be used, we are splitting the project into two.

“We will concentrate on the crematorium first and the sports village will come next. We are committed to a new crematorium and we are committed to a sports village too.”