St Edmundsbury Borough Council has admitted Bury Town’s proposed move to Moreton Hall is dead in the water — but has offered to help to secure the Blues’ future at Ram Meadow.
The council will look to offer Bury a longer lease at their Ram Meadow home and match fund a joint bid to the national FA for money to improve facilities.
Russell Ward, chairman of Bury Town, said: “I am obviously disappointed, but I appreciate that every effort has been made to deliver the Moreton Hall project.
“While that may not be achievable, I am encouraged by the conversations that I have had with St Edmundsbury.
“Ram Meadow is in need of improvements to its facilities and I am looking forward to working with the council to see what can be achieved.”
St Edmundsbury, Bury Town and the Football Association (FA) had been working towards securing new community football facilities for the town.
However, after the stand-alone scheme came in more than £1 million over budget, follow-up plans to link it with a new school in Moreton Hall suffered a fatal blow when Suffolk FA pulled their £250,000 from the project, citing a perceived lack of enthusiasm from Suffolk County Council.
Councillor Sarah Stamp — St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage — said: “It is frustrating that, for reasons totally beyond our control, we haven’t been able to achieve the original scheme.
“We have worked extremely hard on behalf of residents to deliver but were finally undone by the decision of the Suffolk FA.”
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has now asked Suffolk County Council to leave space for a 3G pitch at the new school — expected to open in September 2016 — and will also undertake a review about how many more artificial surfaces are needed in West Suffolk and Forest Heath.
Councillor Lisa Chambers — Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills — said: “It remains our top priority to ensure there is a local education provision for the Moreton Hall community by 2016 and I am committed to seeing this delivered.
“We will continue to work with St Edmundsbury and the new academy provider to secure new sports and leisure facilities for the whole town.”