Fees introduced on boules court and speedway track in Filton
AN emergency meeting of Filton Town Council has been held to discuss controversial charges for its boules court and cycle speedway track.
A row had erupted because the council was increasing charges for other sports facilities by five per cent but not for the little-used boules court or cycle track.
Some residents claimed it was unfair that there was a charging structure for other sports facilities, such as the tennis courts and football pitches but not for the two minority sports.
At the special finance meeting, held at the Pavilion in Elm Park last night, councillors voted to implement charges.
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Filton Leisure Centre manager Lisa Timbrell recommended the council charge at least £4.20 per person for two hours on the boules courts and charge £15.40 per hour for group bookings of the cycle speedway track.
It was the third time Ms Timbrell has recommended charges – when she first did so in February councillors rejected her proposed costings as too high and then at a subsequent meeting deemed new costings too low.
This caused confusion among residents, who claimed at an earlier meeting that the reason behind delaying a decision for a charging structure was due to some Labour councillors' interests in the two sports, including South Gloucestershire ward councillor for Filton, Roger Hutchinson.
They also claimed at the same meeting that the council was discriminating against football teams and other sports by charging for them to use its facilities.
But Mr Hutchinson, a former member of the town council, told the Post it was "ridiculous" for residents to think that his links to the cycle speedway club and boules club had any effect on the town council's charging structure.
"There are no charges for the boules court because it is a pub game and as far as I know no other pubs charge users to play this sport," he said at the time.
Mr Hutchinson, who is treasurer of Filton Cycle Speedway Club, added: "There is a charge for competitions at the cycle track, just as there is for football matches. To train on the track is currently free and any large charge that the council imposes would make it impossible for our club to continue. Anyone can use the track, and at the moment lots of kids use it to ride and run round – would they have to be charged too?"
The new charges mean that group bookings, including cycle speedway events, will be charged at £15.40 per hour, with all day bookings being charged at £123.20. Filton Cycle Speedway Club currently trains at the track for 28 two-hour sessions per year, and will be charged £7.70 per hour, totalling £431.20 for the year.
Ms Timbrell's report recommended that the public be charged £1.10 per hour's use, but she pointed out that this would need to be enforced in some way.
She also recommended that the boules court charges were in line with those for the tennis or five-a-side courts at £15.40 per hour, but that people pay per player.
It means that two players would be charged £4.20 each, four players charged £4 each and six players charged £3.80 each.
Dave Mikkelson, who lives in Ferndale Road, was one of the residents who felt that the council's reluctance to agree a pricing structure for the two sports was unfair.
After last night's meeting he told the Post: "I think Lisa Timbrell came up with a really good pricing structure.
"It was fair because it fits in with what is charged for other sports."