Residents say village is in need of more youth facilities

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Village residents are angry and worried for childrens’ safety after a playing facility, built for local youths, was removed earlier this year.

The football court that was erected by Storrington Parish Council at Ravenscroft in 2009, was dismantled in January due to complications with the lease and lack of funding.

But residents that overlook the old site said children no longer have a communal space to gather and now resorted to playing dangerously close to the roads.

Sandy Parker has lived on Ravenscroft for 35 years and is worried a child will be ‘killed’ if they do not have anywhere safe to play.

“The kids were always in the football court and that was far safer for them,” said the 60-year-old, “but now they hang around the entrance of Abbey Walk, which is very dangerous.

“Kids are flying straight into the road on their bikes, skateboards and scooters.

“One of them is going to get killed.”

After heavy snowfall had caused the roof netting of the court to collapse and several incidents of vandalism, the parish council taped up the entrance and erected signs advising that use was unauthorised.

A Storrington Parish Council spokesperson said: “For several months the parish council has been attempting to locate a company that can provide a steel structure with a roof but estimated costs for this type of facility are around £55,000.”

Friends of Meadowside chairman Sue Shelton had rallied local residents to raise funds to prevent its closure.

She explained: “We came up with the idea to raise £15,000 to put up a new football court, basketball hoops and a space for cricket.

“We were in the process of raising money and had several investors interested, but we were not given enough time.”

Furthermore, the land on which the court sits is owned by West Sussex County Council, and although the parish council had recently entered into a 10 year lease, it could be terminated at any time with only 12 months’ notice.

The parish council spokesperson continued: “Without the security of tenure and with such low levels of usage, we believe that this type of expenditure cannot be justified. Efforts to identify a suitable location have proven unsuccessful leaving no option but to dismantle the facility and return the land to allotments.”

Mrs Shelton added: “We’d discussed the lease issue with our investors and they were fine with this.

“I think we could have still had the facility for many years.”

To keep the youths busy, Mrs Shelton has organised a summer trip to Lodge Hill Centre in South Downs National Park, which will include high ropes and abseiling.

She said: “We’ve used the generous grant from Affinity Sutton to fund the entire trip.”

The parish council is looking into the possibility of a skate park in another location.