No foul play on sports day, claims council

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FIFE Council has denied claims of unfair play on a primary school sports day.

Parents from Parkhill were angered to hear the school would this year have to pay £101 for the toilets to be opened and track lines painted at Leven’s King George V Park .

Mums and dads felt it was wrong for the local authority to charge one of its own schools for an event promoting fitness and fun, while Parkhill had a tradition stretching back half a century or more of holding the games at the park.

Parents also feared there may be a greater risk of injury to the youngsters on a tarmac surface.

However, council officials told the Mail a Fife-wide agreement had been reached some years ago to charge “community groups” - which included schools - for time and labour if council workers had to carry out extra non-contract duties.

On the eve of Thursday’s sports day, children in P4-7 took home letters saying the event was being switched to Parkhill’s own grounds because of the council’s intention to charge.

The council was criticised in a number of on-line posts, while one parent who contacted the Mail described it as “scandalous”.

Another said: “Surely they should give them the park for nothing? It’s for one day and lasts about an hour and half. Parkhill has been going there for years to do its sports.

“The council is maybe short on budget, but they fact they couldn’t lay that on for nothing for P4-7 kids is really bad.”

Levenmouth area services manager Dave Paterson said it was unfortunate things had reached this stage but there was a charge for non-standard work, outwith the council’s contract with the education service, to cover labour and extra time.

Peter Howden, parks and countryside development manager, added: “While use of our public parks is free, a policy decision was made some time ago to charge for any additional costs incurred by staff being required to undertake duties over and above what they would normally do.

“I would stress we are keen to encourage schools to use our parks and green spaces at every opportunity and a levy is only charged when absolutely necessary.”

Parkhill took the 11th-hour decision to reschedule venue after talks with the children themselves.

Head Yvonne Wallace said P5-6 pupils had organised this year’s sports as part of their health and wellbeing project.

She added the event had been turned into “a very positive experience” and, on the day, it was successful.

Pupils had planned all the races and designed a podium for first, second and third-place finishers.

Mrs Wallace said parents who came to spectate were impressed by what the pupils had achieved.

“We have done it for ourselves this year - and done it for free,” she added.

Mrs Wallace said one youngster did suffer a grazed knee but was keen to rejoin the action.