£160k grant for Fernie Fields improvements approved by Northampton Borough Council

Fernie Fields plays hosts to Sileby Rangers games as well as a host of community events. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds
Fernie Fields plays hosts to Sileby Rangers games as well as a host of community events. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds

A £500,000 scheme to improve facilities at Fernie Fields in Moulton Leys has been boosted with a £160,000 capital grant from Northampton Borough Council.

The sports ground and its facilities are used by Sileby Rangers FC for first-team football, and by Whyte Melville Bowls Club.

It also hosts events for community groups, such as Sports 4 Fitness CIC. The group holds sessions for children and adults with special needs, and it is hoped that the works will upgrade facilities for all the groups that use the ground.

The trustees of Fernie Fields Sports and Social Club requested assistance from the council towards the scheme, which includes a new community pavilion and increased access, particularly for disabled people.

The council’s deputy leader, Councillor Phil Larratt, urged his fellow cabinet members to back the grant to the club on Wednesday evening (February 6) at The Guildhall.

He said: “It’s fair to say I’ve been involved with this club since it was created back in 1986. It’s been a pleasure to see it grow to become such a big part of the local community as it is today, and I’ve been impressed with the growth of the facilities.”

The cabinet had already granted £20,000 towards the new pavilion back in August and went forward with the further £160,000 this week.

Those funds are expected to see £3,500 spent on garages and storage, £13,000 on a new entrance and toilets to include disabled facilities and £143,500 on a kitchen and dining room extension.

Councillor Larratt added: “The overall scheme is spending £500,000, and the site is still owned by NBC with 40 years still left on the lease. For me, we are investing in our own asset.”

The club has also worked to secure funding from organisations including The Football Stadia Improvement Fund, Sports England and Bowls England. The proposed grant would be partly matched with funds from these organisations and the trustees themselves.

One of its applications for match funding has been successful and has seen the club receive £75,027 towards the cost of hospitality extension and remodelling the changing rooms, after regulation changes implemented by the Football Association.

But Councillor Jane Birch told the cabinet: “I do have some concerns in that the club is an unincorporated body. So it’s individuals who are taking on the contract.

“We don’t know how some of these contracts are going to pan out, and if individuals are being put at risk then we need to try and protect them. It’s not difficult to establish a company or a charity, and that would provide some protection.”

The council’s cabinet delegated authority to the council’s head of customers and communities, Marion Goodman, to enter into the grant funding agreement with the trustees of Fernie Fields Sports and Social Club.