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Huntington Stadium safety fears
MAJOR problems with York’s main athletics venue have been exposed by the firm behind plans for its £2 million replacement.
Sports facilities at Huntington Stadium have been branded so run-down that some have been “condemned” or are on the verge of being given that status. Securing a certificate for competitions also is proving a struggle and the track is virtually “unusable” for certain races when it rains, according to a report.
“Significant issues” with the Monks Cross venue are outlined in a planning application to City of York Council for a new county-standard eight-lane track, part of the £9 million York Sport Village complex at the new University of York campus.
City of York Athletics club, which has 500 members, uses the Huntington facilities every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and they are also used by young people, disabled groups, churches, Special Olympics, schools, social clubs and triathletes, with 30 full-hire bookings last year.
But York-based planning consultants, O'Neill Associates, said in a statement: “The existing track has a number of problems which restrict its use.
"In particular, the pole vault facility has been condemned, the high jump take-off and landing mats are likely to be condemned this year, and the track is slippery and almost unusable in the wet for faster races and hurdles events.
“In general, there are significant issues with the maintenance of the facility which results in difficulties in obtaining a track certificate to enable the holding of competitions.”
Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which operates the stadium for the council, said the pole vault area was to be removed because it is not used enough, but said all the other facilities were “fully functional”.
The athletics club, whose members include Team GB relay runner Richard Buck, will move to the “flagship” Sport Village facility to allow Huntington Stadium to be demolished and replaced with a new 6,000-seat home for York City FC and York City Knights.
Neil Hunter, of the athletics club, said the report accentuated the need for new facilities but said it would be wrong to “throw good money after bad”.
He said: “We are working hard with GLL to make the most appropriate changes we can now, but if they were spending £10,000 to £15,000 then I would rather use that to encourage grass roots athletics.”
He also said the track was due to be cleaned soon.
A GLL spokeswoman said: “The only facility within Huntington Stadium to be decommissioned is the pole vault, which will not be replaced due to lack of use and minimal customer demand.
“The netting to the cage requires routine maintenance and this will be undertaken shortly, while the sand in the long jump pit will be topped up at the end of the athletics season. Other than the pole vault, all athletics facilities are fully functional, accessible to the general public and adhere to recognised health and safety standards.
“Events will continue to be held as normal – in fact, this summer has been one of our busiest ever – and all athletics facilities will be maintained and operated in the normal way.”
O'Neill's planning statement said timescales for the new track had yet to be finalised, but said it was "a priority".
They said the new facilities at the Sport Village would be a "regionally important sports facility", including long jump, triple jump and pole vault pits, a high jump area, throwing circles for javelin, shot putt and discus and a steeplechase water jump, as well as a track and a closed road-racing cycle circuit.
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