TENDRING District Council is poised to slash its sports pitch fees in half after figures reveal a dramatic drop in usage.

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Tendring District Council sports pitch fees

Grass pitch fees and charges – changes from 2010/11 to 2012/13

Athletics - Vista Road Day £31.15 to £46.75

Cricket/Softball Day £44.68 to £67.06

Cricket/Softball Evening £39.15 £58.75

Football with changing facilities £39.15 £58.75

Football without changing £33.53 £50.31

Football at Old Road £34.55 £51.87

Mini Football - Juniors only £19.57 £29.37

Rugby with changing facilities £39.15 £58.75

Rugby without changing £33.53 £50.31

Council bosses confirmed plans to revert back to 2010 prices for the hire of its grass pitches across the district in a bid to boost bookings.

It follows a report in the East Anglian Daily Times which showed there was a 45% decrease in the number of bookings in the 2011/12 financial year compared to 2010/11.

Figures, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, revealed there were just 689 bookings during the 2011/12 financial year compared to 1,003 in 2010/11.

The decline came after TDC raised fees by 49% in April 2011 as part of wider plans to find £4.4million of savings.

During a full council meeting held on Tuesday, TDC’s portfolio holder for leisure Stephen Mayzes said he was committed to bringing the prices down in next year’s budget from April.

“As part of an ongoing review process, I have suggested we revert back to 2010 prices which would result in a 49% decreases in the cost of hiring a sports pitch at Tendring run sites,” he said.

“I’ve admitted that we got this wrong. However, we want to address it in the best way possible.

“If clubs do not continue to hire after this then we know it’s not just because of the financial cost of hiring a pitch and we’ll need to do a very rigorous piece of scrutiny work.”

He said overall usage levels at facilities across the district, including swimming pools, were the same but income was down.

TDC’s newly elected leader Peter Halliday also said sports pitch usage around the country had dropped but TDC was determined to get numbers up again.

Labour councillor for Harwich East Central David McLeod, who raised the issue at full council, welcomed the news but expressed disappointment action had not been taken earlier.

He said: “My reaction is both pleasure and frustration. I am obviously delighted that the pitch fees are being reduced from the ridicous levels that had been imposed, but I am also very frustrated that the administration didn’t listen to us a lot earlier.

“The pitches in Harwich were being well used and we are now in a position where they haven’t even got goal posts. At a time when TDC was talking about an Olympic legacy that’s a terrible indictment on their policy.”

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