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Cradlehall Primary School Football Club in Inverness continues to seek solutions as Highland Council imposes £6000 charge to use hall and pitch

By Val Sweeney

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Highland councillors agreed amendments to hire charges for premises in March.
Highland councillors agreed amendments to hire charges for premises in March.

An Inverness school football club is to lobby newly-elected Highland councillors as it faces a £6000 charge to use facilities.

Cradlehall Primary School Football Club is among the youth organisations facing a hike in rents for premises owned by Highland Council.

It runs sessions at Millburn Academy in Inverness for P2-P7 pupils and is now facing annual charges of more than £6000 to hire the outdoor pitch and indoor hall which were previously free.

The new charges were agreed by councillors before last week’s council elections and group leaders are now in negotiations to form a new administration.

The charges apply to the use of premises such as school halls, classrooms, community halls and social spaces and are set in bands according to the purpose with Brownies, Guides and Scout groups in the lowest band along with sporting, social, political and religious activities, musical competitions and blood donor sessions.

The new charge for a classroom, small meeting room or equivalent, for example, is £10.30 while a small hall will cost £21.96 per hour.

But concerns have been raised that the new charges will hit some youth groups and in turn could impact on families struggling with the cost of living.

Matt Smith, chairman of the voluntary-run Cradlehall Primary School Football Club, said it is trying to find solutions but potentially it might have to consider raising the annual subscription of £30 per child.

“We have made parents aware we will cover things for the last term before summer,” he said.

“We have no idea how it will all work out after that. We are in conversation with parents and are being open and honest. Parents are very supportive of the club’s position.”

Mr Smith feared increasing subscriptions could prevent children accessing the sport in the future.

Parents were being invited to contact their councillors and put the issue on their radar.

“It’s unfair on the kids,” Mr Smith said. “That is the one thing motivating this.”

Suzanne Docherty, county commissioner for Girlguiding Inverness-shire, has also warned the new charges will impact on many of her organisation’s units.

She said some Girlguide units may have to consider putting up subscriptions but this could impact on girls whose parents struggle already to pay fees.

Youth organisations to be impacted by rise in council rents

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