SKIPTON Town Council were in the process of agreeing to “lease” the use of public land at the Raikes Road recreation ground to a local football club without prior consultation with local residents at all. And more worryingly, with no consideration whatsoever for the wider implications of the decision.

The first that residents and users of the ‘Rec’ knew of the matter was when access to the field was denied with barriers, and the bulldozer moved in to create a levelled junior football pitch. At a small meeting convened at the demand of residents, more of the plans were revealed and a promise extracted from the council members of a further discussion before anything binding is agreed.

Before, the rec was a semi-wild area used extensively for dog exercising and children for small games. Hedgehogs, Rabbits and Sparrowhawks were all seen there.

The bulldozer and the football club, with the agreement of the council have completely changed the nature of the entire rec, to become a mown, managed playing pitch. Yes, it was some sort of pitch in the distant past, but it hadn’t been used for decades and had become something more valuable to local people. The area now left around the playing area is miniscule.

The worst aspect of the whole debacle is that no consideration has been given to the lack of parking. The suggestion that people can use White Hills driving range to park is laughable. No-one is going to park over half a mile away, walking along a lane without lighting or footpaths. It has been said that 20 or more cars could be involved. They will park along White Hills Lane which is also used by very large vehicles from the farm in Stirton and those from Tarn House Caravan site as they move the static lodges. It could be chaos.

It is currently planned to use the pitch all Sunday morning and one evening a week. Clearly other organised clubs are going to be interested, as is already a ladies team.

What can local residents look forward to? House gardens are less than a dozen metres away from the pitch; gone are our peaceful Sunday mornings and however many evenings it turns out to be. The noise impact of car doors banging, and 22 kids and parents playing and shouting will be enormous.

If the council are so keen to provide extra facilities for youngsters, why not provide them in Aireville park where a pitch could easily be made, any houses are more than 150 metres away and, importantly, there is parking! This may have involved planning consent from North Yorkshire but it would’ve been the more sensible choice. Did our council just take the easy option and destroy our nice peaceful rec. in the process? And what happened to public consultation here?

Helen Wallbank



Louise Close, chief officer of Skipton Town Council, said: "We have formed a working group of residents and the football club and are meeting to address all concerns with a vision to work together for a positive outcome for all."