KEARSLEY residents have expressed concerns over the closure of playgrounds and football pitches in the area.

Residents are worried about the recent closure of play areas for children in Birch Road, Bolton Road and the Ringley Meadows estate, and of football pitches at South Avenue, George Tomlinson School and Folds Road.

But the council has said there are seven different sites for play — including so-called “multi-use games areas” and two football pitches.

It also pointed to the redevelopment of the tennis courts at Bradford Street Park.

Simon Colley, aged 44, grew up in Mossfield Road, near South Avenue, the site of a former football pitch.

He said: “It’s a horrendous situation — it’s really sad. Over the last 50 years we have lost a lot of sporting facilities. It feels like there’s nowhere to kick a ball around now.

“I used to play football at George Tomlinson School. I played on every single pitch in Kearsley, and every one of them has gone.

“The only field you can kick a ball around on is Grosvenor Street and there are no goalposts there.

“When I moved near the Ringley Meadows estate, there were four or five play areas for children, now they have all gone.

“It’s a lot to go in such a short space of time. In an era where they encouraging people to keep fit, it’s a real, real shame. It’s very disappointing.

“Kearsley has always been a good place to live. As a child, I had so many open spaces to play. I put a lot of the blame on the council — they are happy to let people build on every single piece of land.

“If it carries on like this, future children will not exercise or do team sports properly.

“The old pitches are still there, so to simply not look after them is criminal.”

Darren Hilton, aged 42, of Ringley Meadows, has lived in Kearsley all his life, and used to play football in Folds Road, opposite St Saviour Primary School.

The pitch in Folds Road has since been closed.

Mr Hilton, who has a five-year-old son, said: “I feel a bit disgusted with how few facilities children and young people have available to them.

“If my son or other children round here want to play football, they have to walk to Prestolee, which is ridiculous.

“It would be fantastic if more play areas could be introduced. Otherwise you’ve just got lots of land which isn’t used anymore.”

Andrea Heffernan, also of Ringley Meadows, added: “We used to have a few play areas here, but sadly they got into disrepair and had to close.

“I think it’s such a big estate, that they could have another play area, something for the children. That’s something that’s missing.”

Cllr Derek Burrows, for Kearsley, said that, while he sympathised with these concerns, the town’s budget at present would not stretch far enough to provide more football pitches.

Cllr Burrows highlighted the investment in a play area in Hulme Road, the renovation of tennis courts at Bradford Street Park and the planned refurbishment of Kearsley Park as reasons for the town’s residents to be positive.

He said: “I understand what’s been said — there’s more I would like to do, but with the budget constraints we have got, we have to choose carefully. The upkeep of football pitches is all down to finance.

“A lot of the football pitches weren’t being used, which is why they had to close.

“I’m really pleased with the work being done on the tennis courts at Bradford Street Park. This will bring more people to the area and get more people taking part in exercise.

“The play area in Hulme Road is brilliant, and Kearsley Park in Bolton Road is in the budget for 2015 to be refurbished.

“In terms of play areas, there are adequate facilities available.”

A council spokesman said: “We are committed to providing and maintaining suitable green space, playing facilities and play area for both adults and children across Kearsley.

“Inevitably, playing facilities and play areas across a town will change over the course of 50 years and we must respond to changes in demand and changes in population density across the town.”

There are currently play areas or multi-use games areas for children at seven different sites in Kearsley, including Kearsley Park, Brook Street, Bradford Street Park, Bank Top Park, Moss Lane, Church Road and Hulme Road.

According to the council’s approved play area strategy, new play equipment will also be installed at Kearsley Park in Bolton Road in 2015.

There are also football pitches at Bradford Street Park and Darley Park.

A spokesman added: “Work is nearing completion on the re-surfacing and re-fencing of the tennis courts at Bradford Street Park, as part of a £2 million programme to invest in green spaces across the borough.”