Following discussions with Live Life Aberdeenshire officers, a community football club has become the first to take on the maintenance of grass pitches with the agreement of Aberdeenshire Council.
Turriff Community Football Club (TCFC) will mobilise its members to cut grass areas in the town’s Lower Haughs.
They will have responsibility for grass cutting from the town’s sports centre to the Turriff United FC stadium.
A team of volunteers from Turriff United Youth and Turriff Thistle Football clubs have worked tirelessly to secure funding from local businesses and have had overwhelming support allowing them to purchase a mower and strimmer.
All parties will benefit from reduced costs, whilst improved playing surfaces will benefit local teams, including the Turriff Academy team, which uses the area for home fixtures.
Chair of TCFC, Lesley Chapman, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be signing this agreement and look forward to working in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council to enhance the footballing side of the haughs, and to make it an area the whole of Turriff can be proud of.
“We are immensely thankful to Muirden Energy, Ravenhill Ltd, HIS Ltd, Turriff Fuels, Balgownie and Ellis Duguid of Turriff United FC for their support over the last few months as without it we wouldn’t have been able to do this.
"TCFC is at the heart of our community and our committee, coaches and families are delighted to be part of this development.
“We also see this as an opportunity to build on the already strong links with Turriff Academy by making this an even better area for the pupils there to use in future.”
Live Life Aberdeenshire is the sports and cultural service of Aberdeenshire Council and is overseen by the council’s Communities Committee.
Communities Committee chair and Turriff Councillor, Anne Stirling, said: “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm of the community shining through, particularly given the incredibly difficult time everyone has experienced in the last 16 months.
“TCFC have shown great understanding and awareness of the pressures facing the council and the desire to improve facilities in partnership have allowed us to progress to this stage.”
Committee vice chair, Judy Whyte, said: “We hope that in establishing this agreement, the footballing groups within Turriff are able to make improvements that they have identified as being required to make this an area Turriff can be proud of.
“In addition, this is allowing us to look at improvements to educational provision for athletics in the area – and really highlights the benefits of working collaboratively with the community.”
It is hoped further discussions with the community will enable other areas in the Haughs to be improved, as well as establishing a more efficient booking system for all groups who use Turriff’s grass and synthetic pitches.
Turriff is the first community in Aberdeenshire to establish a working arrangement like this, though it’s hoped similar arrangements can be established in other areas across Aberdeenshire in future.
Aberdeenshire Council is currently developing a Pitches and Open Spaces Strategy, which aims to provide the opportunity for community groups to take a greater role in the management and development of sites.
Councillors’ views on the strategy are currently being sought and these will be considered at a meeting of the Full Aberdeenshire Council when it decides on whether the strategy should be implemented later this year.
The draft strategy encourages the establishment of Pitch User Groups (PUGS) which will which allow co-production between interested parties.