Sidmouth Town Football Club nets support for floodlight scheme

Sidmouth Town against Teignmouth. Ref shsp 16-17TI 9600. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Town against Teignmouth. Ref shsp 16-17TI 9600. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

‘Investment could open up opportunities for women’s and disability teams’

A ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to improve facilities at Sidmouth Town Football Club - and benefit the wider community - has gained the landowner’s backing.

Shared Access, which supports grass-roots sport by sourcing investment, is proposing to pay for the installation and maintenance of six floodlights at Manstone Lane at the same time as a new mobile phone mast.

Speaking before a Sidmouth Town Council meeting on Monday, the club’s first-team manager Josh Stunell outlined the advantages to the club. He said: “We are looking to open it up to the community more. We have more than 200 children coming through the youth side and at the moment some of the better ones go off to other clubs due to the facilities.

“It will allow us to improve to the best standard of football within a 20-mile radius and that’s a massive thing for the town - being able to keep Sidmouth children involved in the club. It would also give the option to look at disabled football and opening it up to women’s football.”

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Councillor Louise Cole said: “I would really like to see this initiative being very actively targeted at girls, because football is a more male-dominated sport. We need to ensure this is being actively worked on and not just an add-on.”

She added that the floodlights and increased use of the club’s only pitch could be mutually-beneficial for users of the nearby skate park and improve safety for all.

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Milena Thomas, the regional sales manager for Shared Access, explained the firm works with mobile phone companies in areas where better coverage is needed. It then finds sites that could host a new mast and offers floodlights as a way of investing in the community with ‘top of the range’ equipment that passes all light pollution tests.

Residents have been consulted on the proposal to install six 15-metre-high floodlights and a taller antenna and Shared Access says it received one objection from a householder concerned about light pollution - and bad language at matches.

Cllr Ian Barlow questioned if the club would be better installing its own lights and charging mobile phone companies a rent, but Mr Stunell said other clubs had found the scheme to be a win-win for both parties.

Other members added their support to improvements at the club – described as the ‘heart and soul’ of the community - and agreed it would benefit the wider public.

Sidmouth Town Council – as trustee of the land – supported the idea, which will now have to go through a formal planning application process. The district council will make the final decision.

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