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Concerns over 'bad behaviour' at Thorley Drive sports ground

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

thorley drive

Entrance to Thorley Drive sports facility

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A LETTER is to be sent to Staffordshire Football Association regarding the growing problem of bad behaviour at Thorley Drive sports centre in Cheadle.

In a question and answer session at last week’s meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, councillor Peter Elkin asked if the growing problem of bad behaviour from people using the facilities could be looked into as it was becoming a very difficult time for residents who had to keep listening to bad language.

He said: “This bad behaviour includes the use of bad language and spitting. These people range in age from children to young adults

“Bearing in mind that the district council sports facilities, which include of course football, are very often situated in close proximity to residential areas, such as for example the Thorley Drive sports pavilion.

“I am of the understanding that the FA’s main initiative is the ‘Respect’ programme. Within this, players, coaches, spectators and officials all must sign up to, and there are various sanctions if these are breached. The league also promotes this and have their own internal procedures.

“I am led to believe that if any players or officials are using bad language the referee will take action and this will then be dealt with by the FA. Sanctions could include bans and fines for club and player.”

Councillor Mark Deaville, who has the responsibility for leisure, sports and countryside at the district council, said the points councillor Elkin made were very pertinent and having been involved in junior and senior football for many years he fully understood the comments and questions.

He said: “Unfortunately, bad language and behaviour are common place across sports grounds nationally, and Staffordshire Moorlands is no exception.

“We have discussed this matter several times at the Thorley Drive residents meetings and all agree that there is no easy way to the problem.

“We have written to the leagues and the teams and put up posters in the changing rooms appealing to players to respect local residents and regard to noise and language.

“I have circulated details of the FA’s ‘Respect’ campaign to residents association members and clubs are obliged to sign up to its terms and conditions.

“The implementation of the policy is the responsibility of the referee and the leagues who apply it as they see fit. Officials have the right to send off players and supporters if they feel appropriate and report these matters to the respective league.

“The district council shares the concern of councillor Elkin and residents and will write to the Staffordshire FA to ask how the ‘Respect’ campaign is being applied in our area and if any further steps can be taken to improve behaviour.”

Following the residents meeting on Tuesday, December 3, which meets regularly throughout the year at Thorley Drive pavilion, several other ongoing issues were also discussed.

Mr Deaville updated the meeting that he had spoken with Les Latham and he is organising the pruning of overgrown vegetation and it was discussed that additional works were also required on the boundary that borders onto properties on Millers View.

More litter bins have been installed on the site and signs will be erected in due course notifying of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s new Dog Control Orders.

It was noted that over 130 cars attended a recent cup match on a Saturday afternoon, resulting in cars parked inappropriately on Thorley Drive, entrance road etc.

It was agreed to arrange for an additional large sign to be installed on the wall by the car park advising of the alternative parking available at the Leisure Centre in Ashbourne Road and an Ambulance Only sign for the Emergency Services entrance pathway by the Pavilion.

Four high visiblity vests will be purchased for parking attendants along with 24 traffic cones, which can be used by South Moorlands Leisure Centre (SMLC) staff and put out before each game on the entrance lane to the Pavilion and on Thorley Drive, as the police are not able to continue providing this service.

Leigh White at SMLC will also be asked for a copy of the booking form, to make sure it includes reference to football clubs providing a person to manage parking during matches and that this becomes a booking condition.

Councillors Mark DEaville and Peter Elkin would also like to organise a meeting with clubs to set expectations.

Following the publication of the FA’s Respect Programme / Code of conduct requirements at the last meeting, the group would like to invite Andy Weston of Staffordshire FA to attend the next meeting, to discuss how this can be enforced.

As well as tabling the question during the full district council assembly, it was also agreed to ensure that the booking conditions form includes players not using foul and abusive language at Thorley Drive.

A letter is to be written to Leigh White regarding the avilion being locked up straight away after games, to prevent unauthorised access &and potential damage, after it was reported that on numerous occasions the pavilion was locked up late or on one occasion not at all.

Councillor Mark Deaville had received a quote of £800 for changing the gates to wooden ones. This had been agreed at the last meeting and Mr Deaville re-iterated that this will now be done.

Storage remains an issue for removable goal posts until a new container is provided, but councillor Deaville said he will provide removable goalposts that can easily be erected into suitable socket sleeves and that clubs would have to be responsible for setting up and taking down.

The possible new housing development was discussed and the impact this will have on the Thorley Drive grounds and surrounding area.

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