A CIVIC boss has branded a decision to bar a football club from a Whiteley sports pitch a “form of apartheid”.
The community’s parish council has decided that the Meadowside Recreation Ground can only be hired by Whiteley teams because it has been “swamped” with requests from sports groups.
Burridge AFC, which has been playing at the ground on a casual basis for several years, has now been told it can no longer hire any of the clay pitches because they are not a Whiteley team.
Borough Council leader Sean Woodward says the decision is unfair.
He said: “Whiteley Parish Council seems to be practising some form of apartheid. It would be like saying the community centre in Fareham is now closed to anybody unless they live in Fareham – that would be crazy.
“The football club are very upset about it – they live in the area, they pay their taxes and they don’t see why they can’t continue to hire the rec in Whiteley.”
The chairman of Burridge AFC, Barrie Becheley, said he suspected that the pitch was not being used at the times they were trying to hire it.
He said: “I’ve got a feeling that the sort of days and times we want it the pitch is quite often not played on anyway, which seems crazy.
“I think this is discrimination. I’ve been booking it on a casual basis for five or six years when our pitch is waterlogged.
“It’s very inconvenient – I have always relied on Meadowside as a back up.”
Whiteley Parish Council took over the running of the recreation ground around a year ago from Winchester
City Council and pays for its upkeep.
Chairman Mike Evans says the decision was taken because so many teams want to book the pitches.
He said: “Whiteley Wanderers have 24 junior teams and two adult teams – and there are only three pitches.
“The parish council took the decision because of the demand. It’s as simple as that.
“We just can’t accommodate everyone. We don’t want to pick and choose – so we just have to make it exclusive to the Whiteley Wanderers.
“We don’t want to stop anybody playing sport but we have got to look after our own.”