A TOP football official is calling for more “realistic tariffs” for clubs using the playing fields in Troon.

This comes after Stuart Urquhart, the Senior Vice President of the Ayrshire Amateur Football Association and who runs several football clubs in the town, received a bill for more than £800 for eight lets between April and May this year.

He expressed concern over the cost of the grass pitch at Marr Playing Fields, which was to “increase from £11 per hour to £32 per hour – an increase of almost 200 per cent”.

Cllr Peter Convery read out an email sent by Mr Urguhart at the recent Troon Community Council meeting.

It said: “I received a letter from South Ayrshire Council in March this year of the rising of increase in costs of the lets of playing fields, of local groups, pointing out that the cost of a let for said facilities were being increased by huge amounts.

“I find it incredible that in this day and age that the cost of facilities such as Marr Playing Fields to be so expensive and I believe that the new cost could cause the groups folding at the cost of keeping such groups running, including my own club.

“At the time when the government are wanting to get young men off the streets and into such fitness regimes – not to mention the fight to reverse the country’s obesity issue – I am and also my colleagues, find this ridiculous that there should be such an increase in leisure facilities causing the danger of organisations going into extinction when were are all doing our level best to help young men off the street to play football, which can only help with their fitness and wellbeing.

“I would, on behalf of Troon and Dundonald area see a request at the revisit the cost of lets and come up with a more realistic tariff which will keep all of our groups in operation. This is not an idol threat. 

“The clubs could cease to exist, and it is a fact based on the sizeable increase in cost which a lot of clubs, including my own, will struggle to meet.”

Cllr MacKay received an email regarding this issue.

He explained: “I think there has been a bit of confusion and it is still being investigated. It seems there was a two-hour window charge and they seem to have received an invoice on an hourly basis. There certainly is an increase across the board but it won’t be as severe as this.”

Cllr Convery replied: “They still have this debacle. They still have got to pay the £864 for the eight lets.

“You know the irony about it? Even if they try and change it, they have got to wait until the next full council.”

Community Councillor, Frances Carson, added: “I brought this issue up before – when the boys play on the Astro, they are charged £2 but now the pitch beside it, which is public ground – the children are charged £2 for that as well. Even the kids were saying to their coaches ‘let’s not come up in our kits and they’ll not charge us’.

“It is disgusting – it is just South Ayrshire Council being greedy. I hope [Stuart Urguhart] gets the money back because it is just completely unacceptable.”

South Ayrshire Council commented: “The letting rates for the Marr grass pitches are £16 per hour, in line with the decision taken in the March budget.

"We’ve now rectified invoices sent out in error for the use of the grass pitches and apologise for any inconvenience to all those affected.”