Councillor accuses Ashfield schools of 'using Covid as excuse' not to reopen sports facilities

A councillor has criticised a number of schools in Ashfield and Mansfield for ‘refusing’ to reopen sports facilities after the pandemic.

By Lucy Roberts
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 3:31 pm
Councillor David Martin
Councillor David Martin

Councillor David Martin, who represents Selston on Nottinghamshire County Council, said the Two Counties Trust closed its facilities to the public due to Covid restrictions – but then failed to reopen them after curbs were lifted.

The trust, which manages nine academy schools including Ashfield School, Selston High School and the Manor Complex in Mansfield, has allowed community sports clubs to practice on school premises over the years.

Coun Martin said: “They are now using Covid as an excuse not to reopen sporting facilities for some of the area’s poorest residents.

“There are 154 footballers from Selston alone who have been denied access to facilities.

“There were also around 50 young people attending the Base 16 Youth Club, which is part of the same complex.

“Hundreds of young people have been denied access to what have always been previously accessible public facilities.”

The councillor said the decision to close the centres indefinitely means hundreds of residents will miss out on sport.

He said: “Ashfield District Council handed over sports facilities to the Two Counties Trust in 2018.

“This included facilities such as the 3G floodlit pitch, the gym, the indoor sports hall and the external football pitches, which were all heavily used by the public.

“At the start of the pandemic in March 2020 all facilities, including the schools, closed. The school has since reopened but residents are still barred from using sporting facilities.”

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The Two Counties Trust has denied that the decision to close the facilities was made as a result of the Covid pandemic.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “Ensuring we provide a high-quality education to our students, alongside supporting their physical and emotional wellbeing and safety, are our absolute priorities.

“The decision to close the centers indefinitely was not made as a result of Covid-19.

“We made this difficult decision having carefully considered our use of the funding streams available to the trust, choosing to allocate the resources available directly to our students.

“As part of our decision to close the centers, we have held several meetings with Nottinghamshire County Council, Ashfield District Council, and one of the local MPs, Ben Bradley.

“Through these conversations the relevant people have been supportive of the trust’s decision.

“As part of the trust’s ongoing commitment to the local community, we have a positive and collaborative relationship with the youth services team which is run by the council, and host their club at one of the schools each week.

“We also welcome Selston Football Club three times a week, allowing them access to the outdoor pitches located on the school grounds, outside of school hours.”