Sports teams in Kirkcaldy have been left kicking their heels for the past fortnight after the synthetic turf pitches at Kirkcaldy High School were put of action.
A floodlight pylon blew down during Storm Henry on Wednesday, February 8, forcing Fife Council to close Kirkcaldy’s only such facility to carry out repairs.
But further inspections to the remaining seven pylons showed that six had “weak welds” and the pitch had to remain closed whilst work was carried out.
The pylons, which were installed in 2001, will now be inspected every three months.
Whilst the astroturf itself is not damaged, adding to the list of repairs is a vital“deep clean” to remove the glass particles fromthe pitch area where the pylon lights smashed.
A Fife Council spokeman said this could only be carried out in good weather conditions so no date has yet been set.
Jim Douglas, secretary of Kirkcaldy YM says the amount of time the key facility has been out of action is “ridiculous”.
“Teams are getting really upset about the time being taken to get it reopened,” he said.
“It is a huge inconvenience for our four teams -juniors, U19s, U17s and amateurs - who all train up there - and for all the kids teams who use it as well.
“If it was the school building itself it would’ve been repaired within days. Part of the roof blew off at Kirkland High but pupils were only off school for two days.
“But because it’s the community use, nobody is bothering their backside about it, despite the fact Fife Council is losing income out of this.”
Mr Douglas said there was a backlog of teams wishing to use the pitch at KHS as most grass pitches in the area have been left unplayable due to the wet winter.
“Teams are being told to find alternative training facilities but everywhere is chock-a-block so some teams are not able to train at all,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to Neil Crooks and he assured me everything is being done but we’re now into a third week and it’s still dragging on.
“Something needs to be done.”
Cllr Crooks said the pitch was due to partially open last night (Wednesday), with the area affected by the pylon crash closed off until the glass can be removed, though the welding work on the pylons had been completed.
With Glenrothes lined up for a new £2.3m training facility at Gilvenbank, as well as a £1m community facility at Glenrothes Strollers, he said the current closure highlights the “vulnerability” of the Kirkcaldy area to poor weather.
“I understand most grass pitches in our area have been unavailable since November due to being waterlogged. Clubs turn to synthetic turf as it is more weather resilient but as KHS is our only STP at the moment it’s loss has been even more acute to local clubs.”
He said that the situation regarding synthetic pitches in the area was set to improve this year.
“By September this year we should have two further STPs available at Windmill and Balwearie as part of the Kirkcaldy Area Sports and Physical activity strategy agreed by our Area committee and funded by Labour’s budget investments.
“A move towards more matches being on syntethic pitches rather than grass is a conversation we need to have with local clubs as their use is more common in the west than here.
“We also need to make the pitches affordable to attract additional use and I expect that conversation to feature highly in our PASS group meetings in the near future.”
Alistair Cameron, chairman of Kirkcaldy Area Sports Council (KASP), said the closure had been a “frustrating” time.
“It’s been a major blow for a number of groups and unfortunately this rather sums up the whole of this winter.
“Most sporting teams in the area haven’t played since the start of November, and even this weekend isn’t looking so promising.
“It’s great that the pitch is partly opening, and that there has been no long term damage.
“I understand everyone’s frustrations but I don’t think we should play the blame game here.
“Everyone is doing their best but are simply being hampered by the weather.”
Alistair (pictured) added that the situation shows that Kirkcaldy has a lack of STPs and that was a situation that KASP were “striving to look at”.
“It will certainly be better by the end of the year with new pitches at Balwearie and Windmill which will be open for community use, and that’s something that we have been heavily involved in.
“We’re not quite at the level of Glenrothes yet, we still need more, and we are working with Fife Council to improve and expand the facilities in Kirkcaldy.”