Residents angered by plans to build perimeter fence at Seaford Town Football Club

Residents in Seaford have claimed the plans for the town’s football club to erect a perimeter fence around its ground would ‘encourage’ rather then prevent vandalism.

The club play at The Crouch Gardens in the centre of town and four months ago had a proposal accepted by the council to build a 6 ft perimeter fence at their ground.

The club is looking to build the to prevent what it calls ‘weekly episodes of vandalism’ and provide the team with an enclosed pitch like the majority of other teams across Sussex and Surrey who play at Step 6 in the football pyramid.

Four months ago, the club had a proposal accepted by the town council to build a 6 ft perimeter fence - giving them an enclosed pitch like the majority of other teams across Sussex and Surrey who play at Step 6 in the football pyramid.

However, residents have written to The Express explaining their disapproval to these plans.

Chloe Firman said: “Their plan will encourage vandalism. I can say that vandalism is at an all time low in the crouch from where is was a few years ago.

"Anti social behaviour is at a minimum. Maybe if the club put stuff away and protected their own stuff this wouldn't be happening.”

Other residents state that Crouch Gardens is an open area and many residents believe the football club’s plans for a fence will cut off this space to the general public.

This week, the club has seen a new table snapped, its goal nets ripped down and a ticket booth pushed over and its roof broken off.

Resident Kevin Barber added: “To claim that the football club is the only victim of this behaviour and that their plan for fencing-in the pitch will reduce it is frankly ridiculous.

"Erecting a 6 foot fence is simply going to encourage young people to climb over it during the evenings knowing that they then can no longer be seen.

"The low fence provides a degree of reassurance to people using the field as one has a full view of the entire area and is also a deterrent to those who may be considering acts of vandalism; a high fence allows people the opportunity to remain unseen with the attendant lack of security for others.”

Seaford FC chairman Tom Walker said he ‘did not understand’ this side of the argument and stated the fence was to help clearly identify what was the public park and what was the football ground’s property.

Seaford chairman Paul Webster

Tom said: “It’s a strange one really because I have never understood that side of the argument. What we would be doing is creating an area so people would know they were entering a football ground and therefore respect it more.

“In wide open spaces people can hide more, but in a closed ground we would have CCTV and then there would be a large plot of land outside which is no less dangerous then the five alleyways into the park.

“It feels they are trying to clutch at straws to create issues that aren't there because they don’t want a fence.”

The club also said the fence would stop dog walkers using the pitch area to exercise their pets on a daily basis.

Tom had previously said dog waste and urine was toxic to the grass and killed off patches of the pitch – ruining the work by volunteers to get the playing surface to a good standard.

However, residents disagree with Tom, saying that the majority of dog walkers use the space responsibly.

Kevin Barber explained: “The majority of dog walkers who use the park are responsible and pick up after their dogs, one only has to check the dog waste bins in the park to verify; in fact I also regularly see responsible owners picking up dog waste left by the small minority of owners who do not bother.

“Most dog owner’s walk around the edge of the pitch outside of the existing fence and the few who use the pitch rarely leave dog waste.

"Visit the park on any day and you would struggle to find any dog waste on the actual pitch; any you find would almost certainly be on the areas outside of the pitch and this is no worse than in any other public area."

In response, Tom said: “I completely agree that the majority of dog walkers respect the pitch and that it is a small minority that don’t. The dog walkers are only one small part of a much larger problem.

"The council have told us that without a fence they would not allow us to change the rules to have so that you have to have dogs on leads inside the ground and no dogs on the pitch.

“So without the fence, there is no rules in place to say that people can’t walk their dogs on the pitch.”

Resident Andrew Jones claimed that the issue of dog mess was used as an excuse and have not been substantiated by an audit undertaken of the playing surface.

When asked about this, Tom replied: “You’ve only got to walk on the pitch to see the amount of burn holes from urine, you don’t need to conduct an audit to see with your own eyes how much of an impact that has made on the pitch.”

Seaford FC said the fence will have open gates which the public are free to walk through, but the club said it would ask that when walking through the fenced area that dogs are kept on leads to avoid spoiling the pitch.

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However, some residents believe their rights to access to public green space should be acknowledged by the council, as well as the aspirations of the football club.

Chloe said: “This is a designated green space for all to use, not for a club, who lets face it are never going to be a Man City, to capitalise on for their own agenda, eliminating tax payers using a space they pay for.

"I have the right to use that space with my dog, I pay for it with my rates. No football club will stop me using a designated green space.”