Boys football team charged £250 to train in Barkingside park
- Credit: Archant
An under-11s football team was stopped mid practice by parks police and told they have to pay to train on Barkingside Recreation Ground.
The Colebrook Royals, an FA chartered club, were informed last week that they could not use the public park until they had bought a £250 permit from Redbridge Council.
Coach Paul Burgess was astonished: “Three officers came over, it quite upset some of the boys.
“I’m really disgusted, at a time when we have got children in obesity and we have got to get kids to play football we are being penalised.
“We are volunteer coaches giving our time and we are supposed to pay money to use a public park?”
Club secretary John Eagleton could not believe the fee. He said: “When Paul told me I thought it was the first of April, I thought it must be a joke, it is just incredible they can do this.
“In my 25 years of being involved with grass roots football I have never heard of anything like it.”
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Mr Eagleton said he did not know where the team would train, as all the children lived in the area.
He added: “I am a firm believer in keeping kids off the streets and getting them to play sport.”
The council says it has never had a complaint about the cost of the permit before.
A spokesman said: “Like other London boroughs, we operate a permit scheme for clubs and organisations in our parks.
“The permit ensures that the organisations are insured, have qualified coaches and carry the appropriate safety checks when working with children and vulnerable adults.
“Without an application and vetting process the council could be liable for damages if an unqualified personal trainer were to cause injury to people ... for example.”
But Mr Eagleton explained that as an FA chartered club, coaches already have to fulfil numerous criteria, including holding public liability insurance.
He said: “All of my coaches are CRB checked, a minimum of level one FA coaching standard, of which Paul is much higher, and trained in first aid and child protection awareness.”
The Essex FA confirmed the Royals’ the Royals’ secretary’s claims.
A spokesman said: “The basic entry level requires safeguarding policies to be in place with a welfare officer, plus a minimum of one FA Level 1-qualified coach per team.”
The council spokesman added the money from the permits goes towards park maintenance.
Do you agree football teams should have to pay the council to use the borough’s parks? Email email@example.com.