An agreement between Fife Council and the University of St Andrews over use of sports pitches has been criticised by a local hockey club secretary.
The deal will allow Madras pupils to use the university’s 2G pitch for eight hours during one school day and a slot after school one day per week, and university students to use the new school’s 3G pitches on one afternoon for parts of the year.
Parents of Madras College pupils had previously criticised changed plans for the school, which they felt would have led to a shortfall in hockey provision in the town.
The new school’s pitches will only have pitches suitable for hockey for children up to S3. However, the deal has been criticised by Jade Milne, secretary of the Madras College FP Ladies Hockey Club.
“This agreement appears to indicate that Madras College will be installing facilities for the University’s use, at the expense of installing facilities that their own pupils want and need,” she said.
“It does not justify the pitch decision, it merely illustrates that the school would rather send pupils off campus to attend lessons that could be provided on site if a 2G pitch were installed instead of a ‘specialised rugby surface’.
“Rugby is not a curriculum sport, and the school does not have a rugby team.
“Girls will be disproportionately impacted by this decision because the school’s hockey teams will only get one hour a week for all their training and matches. A 2G pitch alongside the undisputed 3G pitch will provide the best variety of facilities for the school and community’s use for years to come, not to mention it’s a lot less expensive to install. Clarity and reasoning for not installing a 2G pitch remains a mystery.”
However, local councillor Brian Thomson, who has suggested arranging a fundraiser to pay for a 2G pitch suitable for hockey, welcomed the deal.
“This is an excellent agreement, with Madras College having access to three synthetic pitches, one of which is suitable for all levels of hockey,” he said. “I still think that a 2G pitch at Station Park would be worth pursuing, to provide an additional pitch for community hockey clubs in north east Fife and, if the hockey clubs support such a proposal, I’m happy to explore the feasibility of it and try to identify potential funders.”
Fife Council said the school does not need a sand-dressed pitch to fully deliver the PE curriculum and that suitable pitches were available.
It also said that consultation also found there was ‘little demand’ from the community for 2G pitches.