Positive public feedback for Catto Park plans

LOCAL residents showed their support towards the upgrading of facilites at Catto Park on Wednesday night.

The meeting was hosted by a firm of consultants which is involved with the planning process.

Vice-chair of Peterhead Football Club, Ian Grant, spoke out about the need for better facilities to keep the team alive, saying: “Football is changing and clubs are dying. They cannot survive on 300/400 people coming through the gates.

“We need to engage with the community and provide them with the facilities they need.”

He also mentioned that the poor condition of the current site is having an impact on the team.

“The club do their training in Aberdeen because the ground is not of the right standard,” he said.

“We looked at the number of people using the club and got PMR involved because they are successful in providing first class community facilities.

“We needed to take a lead and see if there is enough interest to upgrade the facilities. If these plans get backing then everyone wins.”

Director of PMR Leisure, Penny Lochhead, said they had faced “a few challenges” along the way but had already discussed the plans with a range of groups including Sportscotland, SFA and the Pupil Council.

She said: “It is very important young people get a voice because they are the future of the town.

“They jump on the bus and visit Aberdeen to find something to do. We want to build something that makes them proud of Peterhead.”

As part of the research into the area, Penny said: “We identified that there is a lack of investment in Peterhead. The current gym and pool are fantastic, but they don’t fit public demand.

“There is a struggle to provide PE time for schools due to a lack of facilites here so it is time to invest in Peterhead.”

Facilities identified for the site include synthetic pitches, an indoor sports hall, multi-use community spaces and a cafe.

Stephen Bruce of Jog Scotland said: “Looking around the North-east, Peterhead is short changed in facilites. It is time for change.

“We could do a lot more and it is not just about football. This is a great opportunity and could attract people to the town and bring in money.”

Ali Hynd from Peterhead Boys Club commented that there is an urgent need for new facilities: “I moved here 12 years ago and the same pitch is still there. Back then I saw it and said ‘that is horrendous’.

“For us as the Boys Club, we need changing rooms and pitches. We have had to put training off because the current pitch was either wet or covered in snow and the alternative Community Centre was full.”

When asked if they agree Peterhead needs new facilities, the 100-strong crowd all raised their hands.

After looking at the future of the plans, a question and answer session followed.

The first query was about funding to which Penny answered: “We don’t know what we are building so we don’t know how much it will cost. Funding would have to come from Aberdeenshire Council although our company are good at raising money for projects.”

When asked if there would be a direct economic gain for Peterhead Football Club, Ian Grant said: “No, there is no ulterior motive for the football club’s involvement.”

Penny added: “The project would be run via a social enterprise or owned by Aberdeenshire Council, not the club.”

The Catto Park location was also discussed with a member of the public asking whether other locations including the former mill site had been looked at for the development.

Penny answered: “We are not concreting over Catto Park, please don’t think that. We need to have an outdoor space for sports so the idea was to keep the current facilities there but just upgrade them.”

Ali added: “Looking to the future, this could be the catalyst for investment to other parks including Dales Park and even future parks for new housing estates.”

Public comments included: “The majority of people are happy with it being at Catto Park but it doesn’t matter where it is, as long as there are facilities.”

Another said: “Speaking as a parent, my son goes there for football and the facilities are not suitable. If we don’t invest in our children’s future, we can’t drive Peterhead forward.”

The Buchanie is still keen to hear your views on what is needed and whether Catto Park is the right location.

You can make your comments here or send them via email at news@buchanobserver.com, via our popular Facebook page, or write to us at Buchan Observer, 28-30 Seagate, Peterhead, AB42 1JP.