Tory councillor kicks off in row with Labour council over unbuilt sports pitch
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A Tory councillor has kicked off in a row with a Labour council about an unbuilt all-weather sports pitch in Mumbles.
Cllr Will Thomas, who represents the ward of Newton, has pointed to a video pledge by the leader of Swansea Council to build one, and has argued that the promise needs to be fulfilled in the next four months.
He said Swansea Labour had not made good on the promise and needed to spend more money in areas away from the city centre, where it is spearheading several projects.
Cllr Thomas cited a video prior to the 2017 local Government elections in which council leader Rob Stewart tells a Labour candidate that a 3G pitch will be created at Underhill Park, Mumbles, during the five-year term if the party was returned to power.
The Labour leader said: “We are able to commit to that, so the guys who you see behind us (at Underhill Park) will get a new pitch in the next five years.”
The candidate with him, Rob Marshall, finishes the video by saying: “Thank you very much Rob – so you have heard it here, Underhill Park will be getting a 3G pitch, supplied by the local Labour party in County Hall.”
The park doesn’t have a 3G pitch yet, and the next local Government elections on are on May 5.
A 3G pitch is proposed as part of a wider upgrade of Underhill Park by a community group backed by Mumbles Community Council, but funding for the pitch is still required.
Cllr Stewart said the council had been unable to access some money from Swansea City FC for new community pitches following the club’s relegation from the Premier League in 2018.
But Cllr Thomas said the pre-election video didn’t say that.
“He never said this was conditional on the Swans staying in the Premier League or that the council was not actually budgeting for this idea, yet he promised a 3G pitch,” said Cllr Thomas.
“The leader has four months to deliver on his promise before the end of this council term.”
Cllr Thomas, who is one of three Conservative candidates standing in what will be a newly-redrawn Mumbles ward at the May election, also described Labour’s city centre schemes as “vanity projects”.
Cllr Stewart said the Labour administration has had discussions with representatives involved in the Underhill Park project, and that he was surprised that Cllr Thomas – who is also the vice-chairman of Mumbles Community Council – did not the know “the current position”.
The Swansea Labour said he welcomed the upgrade by the group, Mumbles Community Association, which will include a refurbished pavilion, new changing rooms and a community hub.
“In terms of the 3G element, Cllr Thomas should be aware that following the relegation of the Swans, access to some of the funds we were hoping to secure for the delivery of 3G and all-weather pitches in Swansea, were no longer accessible,” said Cllr Stewart.
“However, despite that we have found innovative ways of continuing to deliver 3G and all-weather pitches across Swansea and we now have more than ever before.”
Cllr Stewart said the county council was awaiting revised costs for the 3G pitch planned at Underhill Park in order to evaluate what help might be needed.
“Once these are known we intend to discuss further with the Underhill representatives,” he said.
Cllr Stewart also said Cllr Thomas and his Conservative colleagues should “spend less time playing politics and more time focused on the needs of their community”.
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