Booze sale plan for school site

A secondary school in Northampton has sparked controversy among residents, MPs and councillors after revealing plans to sell alcohol at its proposed £2m sports complex.

Thomas Becket Catholic School in Parklands wants to construct several seven-a-side football pitches with floodlights plus a pavilion with a licensed bar.

Residents who found details of the plans for the site, which will be run by Play Football company, at a public meeting this week have called the sale of alcohol on a Catholic school site "inappropriate".

And Sally Keeble, the Labour MP for Northampton North, who was at the meeting, said she had lodged an objection with Northampton Borough Council to an alcohol licence.

She said: "I would have worries if this becomes a vehicle for a very large commercial venture.

"The facilities should be run primarily for educational purposes not as a money generator for a private company.

"The school and the church need to think very carefully about what is acceptable to the public."

Councillor Malcolm Mildren (Lib Dem, Parklands), said: "All the partners are thinking is 'Yes we can get these great facilities, won't that be good.' But they aren't considering other people's opinions."

The whole facility will consist of about half-a-dozen Astroturf pitches, a full sized pitch and state-of-the art floodlights plus the pavilion bar.

Residents in Kettering Road North told the Chronicle & Echo they were worried about extra traffic of up to 100,000 vehicles a year, and possible nuisance from the floodlights.

But the new worries about the sales of alcohol clashing with school values were raised at the heated public meeting.

Paul Gardiner, headteacher of the school, said he was aware of residents' worries.

"I recognise people's concerns. If it had been at all possible to choose another route to go down we would have. This was not necessarily my first choice. However, I don't think it conflicts with Catholic ethos and principles," he said.

A public consultation on the plans will start within weeks.