Funding gap for football project means another look at scheme

Football supporters during a match at Ram Meadow, in Bury St Edmunds
Football supporters during a match at Ram Meadow, in Bury St Edmunds
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A shortfall of ‘several hundred thousand pounds’ has left the relocation of Bury Town’s football ground to Moreton Hall in question.

This week it was revealed that £2.5 million of funding secured for the scheme had fallen short of the cost of tenders received for carrying out the work.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council had committed £1 million to the community football project – which would see Bury Town Football Club relocate – while partners Bury Town FC, the Football Foundation, Football Stadia Improvement Fund and Suffolk Football Association had committed a further £1.5 million.

This still left an initial shortfall of ‘several hundred thousand pounds’.

Now the project is going back to the drawing board to see if it can be tied in with designs for a new high school to be built on Moreton Hall.

Cllr Terry Clements, chairman of the shadow board of Bury Community Sports Association (the project partners), said: “We recently heard that the specification for a school on that site has been confirmed so our next step is to see whether we can tie the community football project more closely into the school’s facilities and infrastructure.

“We will go back to the drawing board and come up with something better.”

But county councillor Trevor Beckwith has criticised proposals to combine the two schemes, saying he does not want a brand new school to start as a compromise.

He said: “It all seems nice and easy but I’m determined, if there’s anything I can do, that when the school’s built, it’s built as a stand alone school, no compromise – no sharing the car park, the sports field, the changing facilities.”

He added: “If we need a new school of a certain size and with certain facilities then that’s what needs to be delivered, and not with any ties to the football ground.”

Fellow county councillor David Nettleton, a regular supporter at Bury Town’s existing Ram Meadow ground, echoed Cllr Beckwith’s concerns, saying the two schemes needed to ‘stack up independently of each other’.

He said: “It doesn’t seem to me like a very good idea. It feels like a cobbled together compromise which may well fall apart.”

The football project was due to be completed by early autumn next year.

St Edmundsbury says it will ‘support’ Bury Town at its existing ground, which will need upgrading to satisfy league requirements if the club is promoted at the end of the season. But improvements, such as a new stand, could be relocated to the Moreton Hall scheme.