A COUNCIL'S planning committee has refused its own authority permission to erect a ball stop 10 metre (32 feet) high fence adjacent to a leisure centre's synthetic pitch.
Families living near South Moorlands Leisure Centre, in Cheadle, have held talks over a fence being installed around the artificial pitch after complaining about the flying balls and being verbally abused.
In one incident, a ball almost landed inside a child's pram.
The planning application had been submitted by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council following the complaints.
But at a meeting last week members of the authority planning committee labelled the proposal as an "eyesore" and rejected the application.
Councillor Mike Worthington said: "This will double the height of the fence. I think this will be an eyesore. It is a very difficult situation and we need to find a solution."
Councillor Stephen Ellis added: "People will feel like they are living in a cage. If you buy a house next to a football pitch then it is expected that balls will go over."
Councillor Mike Bowen said that no residents had complained over the application, but they had to protect people living there.
But residents in Cecilly Grove say their lives have been blighted by abusive footballers for the past 12 months.
Jenna Vickers, aged 32, said: "It is not good. A taller fence would have been better than what we've got now.
"I don't mind returning the ball. It is a bit annoying but these things happen. The thing that bothers me most is the abuse you get from the footballers when you haven't thrown the ball over quickly enough.
"I have a six-year-old daughter who shouldn't be hearing bad language.
"We get people ringing the bell at 10.15pm, or sneaking round the back to get their balls. My back fence was broken by some footballers climbing over.
"I had a stone thrown at my car the other day too, so it's just gone too far now."
Neighbour Martin Lowe, aged 39, said: "It is absolutely relentless. I have a young son who is in bed for 8pm and I have footballers ringing my door bell at 10pm asking for their ball back. I've had to disable it so he doesn't keep waking up.
"I was having a barbecue last year and the ball came flying over the fence. It landed on the grill and hot ash went everywhere.
"It's got to the stage now where the footballers don't even knock on the door, they climb over the fence and come onto my property. I think this can only be stopped by having a net over the top of the pitch."
The council voted unanimously in favour of refusal of allowing a higher fence.