CONCERN has been expressed at the ongoing denial of public access to Oakmoor School’s sporting facilities – with one youth football club calling for the reopening of Mill Chase’s astroturf to meet demand.
East Hampshire District Council struck a deal with Hampshire County Council in 2019 to make Oakmoor School’s outdoor astroturf pitch and multi-games area, sports hall and dance studio available for public hire – rather than provide equivalent facilities at the new Whitehill & Bordon leisure centre.
However, when the school understandably took the decision to close its facilities to the public in March, it effectively shut the so-called Whitehill & Bordon Healthy Town’s sporting provision.
As a result, Darren Oakley, who runs Wey Valley Youth FC, says young players are being denied the opportunity to play and exercise.
He has asked if Mill Chase Leisure Centre’s astroturf could reopen.
This pitch closed last year at the same time as Mill Chase Academy, and is soon to be ripped up.
That’s a move Mr Oakley believes is “crazy when the local area is crying out for more of these pitches”.
He said: “The Oakmoor School pitch has replaced it in a sense.”
But he added that “with many other clubs wanting to use Oakmoor’s pitch there was good reason to keep the old one as well”.
He said: “If we had use of the astro at Mill Chase, Wey Valley FC could manage its use making it Covid-safe.”
Oakmoor headteacher Paul Hemmings said the decision to close the school’s facilities was regularly reviewed, and he “had hoped to be open for bookings by now”.
He added: “However, the R-rate continues to increase nationally, and it is imperative following months of missed on-site education that I do everything possible to ensure our school remains open for our students.
“In our review last week we concluded the risk association with allowing additional members of our community on to our site could compromise this.”
The Herald has asked East Hampshire District Council and Hampshire County Council for comments.