Pitch battle after kids are locked in sports field

Photograph Jamie Forbes 16.8.13  KIRKINTILLOCH.  Merkland sports field. Gates being locked and kids climbing over and hurting themselves.
Photograph Jamie Forbes 16.8.13 KIRKINTILLOCH. Merkland sports field. Gates being locked and kids climbing over and hurting themselves.

CONCERNS have been raised over the safety of children because gates are being locked at a sports field in Kirkintilloch.

It’s claimed gates around the astroturf pitches at the Merkland sports facility are being shut forcing youngsters to climb over the fence to get out.

Others are also climbing over the fence to get into the facility.

A concerned resident said: “I asked the community wardens why the gates are being locked and they said it’s council policy to stop the fields getting vandalised.

“At that time there were around 18 kids in there playing. Surely that defeats the purpose of locking the gates.

“One child asked me to call his dad because he was locked in. I know some have been injured and someone broke their arm.”

Worried parents also raised concern on Facebook.

Karen Carroll said: “My son was locked in. He’s afraid of heights but tried to climb it anyway. He cut his hand at the top, fell back in and was bruised and concussed.

“He was stuck in there for nearly three hours in 25 degree heat. Eventually, police got a hold of a different keyholder to let him out.”

However, David McGuire, said: “When I was a kid and a gate was locked it usually meant we had to keep out. If I then climbed it and hurt myself I would have thought it was my own fault.”

General manager of East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust, Mark Grant, said: “Unfortunately we do have to close Merkland pitches when no formal bookings are taking place as in the past there has been considerable damage due to dog fouling and excessive vandalism.

“This disregard for the pitches makes them unsafe and unsuitable for all users, and diminishes the potential of the considerable investment made. As a result the pitches are locked up and unavailable to local residents for use out with formal bookings.

“I understand that this is disappointing for local people but I would strongly urge parents to remind their children not to go into the pitches unless they are taking part in a booked session and not to climb the fences as it can be extremely dangerous.

“There have been occasions where children who have climbed into the pitches have been unable to climb back out and we have been required to call out key holders to open the gates.”

He added: “The pitches are super facilities which positively promote physical activity and the development of sport, and are utilised by a number of local sports clubs and organisations.

“We would ask that members of the local community work with us to keep the pitches in good order, so that users can continue to enjoy this recreational sports ground.”

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