Football club attacks use of Saltaire pitch for concert

Councillor Martin Love in front of the churned-up field

Councillor Martin Love in front of the churned-up field

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Aire/Worth Valley Reporter

An outdoor rock concert cancelled due to torrential rain still caused serious damage to football and cricket pitches due to deep ruts caused by vehicles used on site.

The football club which plays on the fields, now surrounded with muddy trenches, has joined a councillor in criticising the decision to stage the Titus Rocks tribute festival in the first place.

Paul Whitehead, the chairman of Salts Juniors Football club which has 550 players, said it was against the idea as the site only has one narrow access point and because the ground, at Hirst Lock in Saltaire, was prone to being waterlogged.

“We opposed it but were told that the organisers had got permission from Bradford Council and it was going ahead.

“The ground is naturally boggy and the potential for problems was always there,” Mr Whitehead said.

“If it had happened and 5,000 people had been jumping up and down on the pitches they would have been totally ruined.

“As it is they are surrounded by very deep ruts, more than one foot deep.

“We want three things: for the ground to be put right by the organisers, for it not to be re-arranged at Hirst Locks for some later date or to become an annual event.”

Shipley ward councillor Martin Love (Green) has written to the Council’s leisure cabinet member, Coun Andrew Thornton, to demand that the damage be repaired by the Titus Rocks organisers and not at the taxpayers’ expense.

He said: “The Titus Rocks event should not have been granted permission in the first place due to access problems and also the fact there is no adequate parking. I have had confirmation from the Council that the organisers will make the ground good again at their expense.”

Baildon Councillor Debbie Davies, who has a son who plays for Salts Juniors, said she was surprised the festival had got the go-ahead in the first place. She said: “There are always loads of matches cancelled because the ground gets water-logged so easily.

“It’s a totally unsuitable place to bank on having an outdoor concert.”

The Council’s bereavement and amenities manager John Scholefield said: “We are sorry that due to the heavy rain the football and cricket pitches were damaged by vehicles moving equipment for the cancelled Titus Rocks event.

“The damage to the Hirst Wood Site will be repaired at the expense of the organisers of the festival and we expect the football field will be available for the start of next season.

“Alternative arrangements are in place for the cricket team over the next few weeks until the boundary areas can be restored to a safe condition.

“This event was not staged to make money for the Council but for the benefit of local people and visitors to enjoy a Bank Holiday musical and family treat.”

The event’s organisers could not be contacted for comment.

Comments (21)

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9:23am Wed 28 May 14

Saltsman says...

The video shows the site has already been repaired!!! This is a non story, I've been there and the day after was a team on machines levelling the site! As for the football pitch there is no damage at all to the playing pitches. Total non story.
The video shows the site has already been repaired!!! This is a non story, I've been there and the day after was a team on machines levelling the site! As for the football pitch there is no damage at all to the playing pitches. Total non story. Saltsman
  • Score: -7

9:55am Wed 28 May 14

Salts Juniors says...

Saltsman - can you define repaired ?
These are sports fields.
Simply rolling rutted mud flat is not repaired.
These need digging out properly, fresh top soil and seed.
Are they going to add seed to the mud ?
Grass seed for sports fields is £60 a bag and cant imagine how many bags needed.
We constantly read no damage to the pitches - please visit our Facebook page where pictures clearly show damage to the pitches.
Even the council seem doubtful fit for next season and looking at alternative venues.
And council statement today says due to the state of the site Cricket Club are having to be moved off for safety.
We have no hidden agenda but just simply want these pitches protected for generations of youngsters to continue playing sport on.
Saltsman - can you define repaired ? These are sports fields. Simply rolling rutted mud flat is not repaired. These need digging out properly, fresh top soil and seed. Are they going to add seed to the mud ? Grass seed for sports fields is £60 a bag and cant imagine how many bags needed. We constantly read no damage to the pitches - please visit our Facebook page where pictures clearly show damage to the pitches. Even the council seem doubtful fit for next season and looking at alternative venues. And council statement today says due to the state of the site Cricket Club are having to be moved off for safety. We have no hidden agenda but just simply want these pitches protected for generations of youngsters to continue playing sport on. Salts Juniors
  • Score: 3

10:56am Wed 28 May 14

Hello@Saltaire says...

From reading this article it clearly says that the organisers were always going to rectify any damage to the grounds so I find it incredible that this story is even in the news - should the Football Club/Councillors not have given them time to put the damage right before contacting the newspapers?
Seems to me as though the issue is that the Football Club never wanted the Festival to take place there in the first place and will do what they can to stop any events taking place on this land in the future.
If the Council own the land and gave their permission for the Festival to take place then it is their decision what happens on the land not the Football Club's.
From reading this article it clearly says that the organisers were always going to rectify any damage to the grounds so I find it incredible that this story is even in the news - should the Football Club/Councillors not have given them time to put the damage right before contacting the newspapers? Seems to me as though the issue is that the Football Club never wanted the Festival to take place there in the first place and will do what they can to stop any events taking place on this land in the future. If the Council own the land and gave their permission for the Festival to take place then it is their decision what happens on the land not the Football Club's. Hello@Saltaire
  • Score: 5

10:58am Wed 28 May 14

billycat73 says...

People seem to complain about anything these days... I also live in the area and have seen the workmen on site ever since. It's unrealistic to expect it to be put right so soon after all this rain, and am I right in thinking that there are in fact 3 whole months before the start of the season? The ground belongs to the Council, who clearly support the community as a whole and not just a select few as you appear to believe should be the case. My children and I were looking forward to the event and are hoping that this will be an annual event. Well played Bradford Council!
People seem to complain about anything these days... I also live in the area and have seen the workmen on site ever since. It's unrealistic to expect it to be put right so soon after all this rain, and am I right in thinking that there are in fact 3 whole months before the start of the season? The ground belongs to the Council, who clearly support the community as a whole and not just a select few as you appear to believe should be the case. My children and I were looking forward to the event and are hoping that this will be an annual event. Well played Bradford Council! billycat73
  • Score: 1

11:45am Wed 28 May 14

moorhead1 says...

Billycat, like you my children and i were looking looking forward to the event, but feel cheated that the £50 spent on tickets is not refundable.
Dont know how many tickets were sold, but a total rip off
Billycat, like you my children and i were looking looking forward to the event, but feel cheated that the £50 spent on tickets is not refundable. Dont know how many tickets were sold, but a total rip off moorhead1
  • Score: -8

11:48am Wed 28 May 14

billycat73 says...

Think you've been misinformed, they have just posted again that refunds will be given in the event they can't reschedule. I hope they can though! Was gutted it didn't go ahead.
Think you've been misinformed, they have just posted again that refunds will be given in the event they can't reschedule. I hope they can though! Was gutted it didn't go ahead. billycat73
  • Score: 5

11:56am Wed 28 May 14

Hello@Saltaire says...

moorhead1 - I've contacted them directly and yes all tickets will be refunded if a rescheduled date can't be found, I think there are people spreading rumours about it all so don't worry you will get a refund if it doesn't go ahead or you can't make a rescheduled date :)
moorhead1 - I've contacted them directly and yes all tickets will be refunded if a rescheduled date can't be found, I think there are people spreading rumours about it all so don't worry you will get a refund if it doesn't go ahead or you can't make a rescheduled date :) Hello@Saltaire
  • Score: 4

12:02pm Wed 28 May 14

moorhead1 says...

The logistics of organising bands etc say it is not going to go ahead this year, so therefor i would like my refund asap.
The logistics of organising bands etc say it is not going to go ahead this year, so therefor i would like my refund asap. moorhead1
  • Score: -3

12:12pm Wed 28 May 14

Hello@Saltaire says...

moorhead1 that may be the case however I think we should give them time to try to do this before making the above comments. I'm going to keep looking out for the updates on the facebook page and then if I need a refund I'll contact them directly.
I hope it can go ahead I think it would have been a great day out :)
moorhead1 that may be the case however I think we should give them time to try to do this before making the above comments. I'm going to keep looking out for the updates on the facebook page and then if I need a refund I'll contact them directly. I hope it can go ahead I think it would have been a great day out :) Hello@Saltaire
  • Score: 3

6:10pm Wed 28 May 14

DS1967 says...

Whether the pitch is repaired in time is debatable, Yes the organisers may fund the repair of the site, who knows. The fact is it should never have got to this stage, anyone with an ounce of sense could see the weather reports, could see the land was getting boggy & would obviously be damaged if a car drove across it never mind heavy trucks.
the sad thing is it could have all been easily avoided but unfortunately money shouts louder than common sense & the pictures & video are evidence enough of that.
Whether the pitch is repaired in time is debatable, Yes the organisers may fund the repair of the site, who knows. The fact is it should never have got to this stage, anyone with an ounce of sense could see the weather reports, could see the land was getting boggy & would obviously be damaged if a car drove across it never mind heavy trucks. the sad thing is it could have all been easily avoided but unfortunately money shouts louder than common sense & the pictures & video are evidence enough of that. DS1967
  • Score: 2

7:02pm Wed 28 May 14

billycat73 says...

Ds1967 the fair at Roberts Park was closed due to ground conditions, and in fact it is still there as a result. I for one was more than happy to don my wellies to attend! I think there's more to it than money as I'm sure they will have lost out as a result of cancelling, and if money was the main concern they'd have held the event regardless of safety. The fact remains that the football pitches haven't really been affected, despite what this article says and even so it is a recreation ground which by its very definition is for the use and benefit of everyone not just the local football team. Most other local affairs are held on football pitches but you don't see them kicking off the way you are. Pathetic.
Ds1967 the fair at Roberts Park was closed due to ground conditions, and in fact it is still there as a result. I for one was more than happy to don my wellies to attend! I think there's more to it than money as I'm sure they will have lost out as a result of cancelling, and if money was the main concern they'd have held the event regardless of safety. The fact remains that the football pitches haven't really been affected, despite what this article says and even so it is a recreation ground which by its very definition is for the use and benefit of everyone not just the local football team. Most other local affairs are held on football pitches but you don't see them kicking off the way you are. Pathetic. billycat73
  • Score: 2

7:14pm Wed 28 May 14

DS1967 says...

billycat73 If you have a look at the Salts Juniors Facebook page you can clearly see that the football pitches have been seriously affected. I'm not kicking off, just viewing my own point in an open forum.
what I find pathetic is people commenting without knowing the actual facts or spending any time looking into those facts............
billycat73 If you have a look at the Salts Juniors Facebook page you can clearly see that the football pitches have been seriously affected. I'm not kicking off, just viewing my own point in an open forum. what I find pathetic is people commenting without knowing the actual facts or spending any time looking into those facts............ DS1967
  • Score: 2

7:32pm Wed 28 May 14

billycat73 says...

Given that we've seen the site in person as we walk our dogs there regularly, I think I am perfectly qualified to comment about the lack of damage to the pitches. It's grass for goodness sake! The photo is of the entrance! As I understand it, the football season doesn't start for 12 weeks or so, and I hear it's a secondary pitch anyway. I take it you're a member of Salts Juniors if you're on their page? Perhaps a little biased then? Can't understand why when you apparently have Salts Sports as your primary ground. If you don't want the festival, why give it free publicity in this way?
Given that we've seen the site in person as we walk our dogs there regularly, I think I am perfectly qualified to comment about the lack of damage to the pitches. It's grass for goodness sake! The photo is of the entrance! As I understand it, the football season doesn't start for 12 weeks or so, and I hear it's a secondary pitch anyway. I take it you're a member of Salts Juniors if you're on their page? Perhaps a little biased then? Can't understand why when you apparently have Salts Sports as your primary ground. If you don't want the festival, why give it free publicity in this way? billycat73
  • Score: 1

7:47pm Wed 28 May 14

Salts Juniors says...

We decided to post one further comment then shall comment no further but leave it to the powers that be to sort.
Some of the comments on here are very misinformed.
We are a community charity with the whole club run by volunteers.
We provide football for 550 players which is hardly an exclusive club as stated in a comment.
These all come from the local community.
We have been based at the site for 15 years so have an understanding of the problems of the site.
We are 100% behind the community which is what we do and only recently received an award from Bradford Council for the work we do for the local community.
The organisers shouldn't have been given permission and unfortunately they are now out of pocket when if advice had been heeded they could have maybe run a successful event on a far more suitable site.

Below is an email we originally sent to the council when we found out about the event.


I have found your names on council website and am emailing you all representing Salts Juniors Football Club.

We discovered a while ago that one of the sites we lease from you has been allowed to be the venue for a pop concert.
The site is Hirst Lane playing fields at Saltaire.
We find ourselves appalled that this event has been allowed permission to take place.
There are a huge list of reasons as the site is the most unsuitable
place at the bottom of a dead end road with no parking, bad access and
next to a canal and railway line.

We would expect the council to take all these things into consideration but from our clubs point of view it is the playing fields that are the issue.

We were asked to be interviewed last year for the Council Playing Fields strategy as we have access to private, school and council sites.
The outcome as you know is that playing fields are in the worst state they have ever been in and need serious investment.
Based just on this why would the council allow permission to hold an event which could have 5000 people trampling initially accross a cricket pitch which is boggy at the best of times and then onto football pitches that dont drain that well and are sinking in places anyway likely due to it been on an old tip.

We have spoken with a council representative initially who seemed to be under the impression it would be a small event using a truck as a stage and not much more.

We questioned how everything would go on, who would repair any damage
etc etc and have to say we were not reassured by any answers.

It is clear visiting their websites / facebook pages that they are to have a 60' x 40' stage, 2 60' led screens as well as bars, stalls and fairground rides, bouncy castles etc and this is not a small event.

Knowing what festivals do to fields we want to know how the council think allowing this makes any sense ?

In reality if the weather is bad these fields will be ruined and could be two more pitches lost in Bradford.

This does not sit with the playing fields strategy so wonder if money is having a bigger say than providing sports grounds.

We are obviously concerned as if the fields are ruined we will lose two 11 a side pitches which mean 8 of our teams will have nowhere to play.

In a current society of trying to engage children in sport risking losing more sports land makes no sense and can only have a negative effect on children that come from the area rather than making a quick buck from people from anywhere.

Surely the council must have none sports grounds where this could have been held ?
We decided to post one further comment then shall comment no further but leave it to the powers that be to sort. Some of the comments on here are very misinformed. We are a community charity with the whole club run by volunteers. We provide football for 550 players which is hardly an exclusive club as stated in a comment. These all come from the local community. We have been based at the site for 15 years so have an understanding of the problems of the site. We are 100% behind the community which is what we do and only recently received an award from Bradford Council for the work we do for the local community. The organisers shouldn't have been given permission and unfortunately they are now out of pocket when if advice had been heeded they could have maybe run a successful event on a far more suitable site. Below is an email we originally sent to the council when we found out about the event. I have found your names on council website and am emailing you all representing Salts Juniors Football Club. We discovered a while ago that one of the sites we lease from you has been allowed to be the venue for a pop concert. The site is Hirst Lane playing fields at Saltaire. We find ourselves appalled that this event has been allowed permission to take place. There are a huge list of reasons as the site is the most unsuitable place at the bottom of a dead end road with no parking, bad access and next to a canal and railway line. We would expect the council to take all these things into consideration but from our clubs point of view it is the playing fields that are the issue. We were asked to be interviewed last year for the Council Playing Fields strategy as we have access to private, school and council sites. The outcome as you know is that playing fields are in the worst state they have ever been in and need serious investment. Based just on this why would the council allow permission to hold an event which could have 5000 people trampling initially accross a cricket pitch which is boggy at the best of times and then onto football pitches that dont drain that well and are sinking in places anyway likely due to it been on an old tip. We have spoken with a council representative initially who seemed to be under the impression it would be a small event using a truck as a stage and not much more. We questioned how everything would go on, who would repair any damage etc etc and have to say we were not reassured by any answers. It is clear visiting their websites / facebook pages that they are to have a 60' x 40' stage, 2 60' led screens as well as bars, stalls and fairground rides, bouncy castles etc and this is not a small event. Knowing what festivals do to fields we want to know how the council think allowing this makes any sense ? In reality if the weather is bad these fields will be ruined and could be two more pitches lost in Bradford. This does not sit with the playing fields strategy so wonder if money is having a bigger say than providing sports grounds. We are obviously concerned as if the fields are ruined we will lose two 11 a side pitches which mean 8 of our teams will have nowhere to play. In a current society of trying to engage children in sport risking losing more sports land makes no sense and can only have a negative effect on children that come from the area rather than making a quick buck from people from anywhere. Surely the council must have none sports grounds where this could have been held ? Salts Juniors
  • Score: 4

8:15pm Wed 28 May 14

Hello@Saltaire says...

The reason I read this article today was that I am currently looking into junior football teams for my 9 year old son to join. Coincidentally we as a family were due to attend the festival and were disappointed that it couldn't take place - however I will say that from reading this article, visiting the team's facebook page (following the above comment from DS1967) and the previous comments here, I certainly will not be allowing him to join this team now, particularly from reading the status reports & comments from club members and parents I feel that it really wouldn't be an environment I wish my child to be part of.
I can understand people who use the ground complaining, but to do it this way in what I can only describe as 'bullying' fashion by asking ALL of their members to email a council official is really quite disgraceful and disappointing to see. I also read on their page an email to the organisers telling them that if they didn't repair the land and find an alternative site then they would 'ramp up a media driven campaign' - it appears to me that this campaign has already begun without giving them a chance to do what was asked. They have clearly said they will repair the ground so why not give them the opportunity to do this?
I feel really very sorry for all of the people involved with the festival having to deal with this behaviour and it is a real blow to the local community who are in support of events such as this. I ask how many of the families from this team would have attended this event, I'm sure a few. It would have been a great day for a lot of local families not to mention all the hard work the bands themselves will have prepared for this too, what a great showcase for them as there aren't many events for families to attend to see them.
The reason I read this article today was that I am currently looking into junior football teams for my 9 year old son to join. Coincidentally we as a family were due to attend the festival and were disappointed that it couldn't take place - however I will say that from reading this article, visiting the team's facebook page (following the above comment from DS1967) and the previous comments here, I certainly will not be allowing him to join this team now, particularly from reading the status reports & comments from club members and parents I feel that it really wouldn't be an environment I wish my child to be part of. I can understand people who use the ground complaining, but to do it this way in what I can only describe as 'bullying' fashion by asking ALL of their members to email a council official is really quite disgraceful and disappointing to see. I also read on their page an email to the organisers telling them that if they didn't repair the land and find an alternative site then they would 'ramp up a media driven campaign' - it appears to me that this campaign has already begun without giving them a chance to do what was asked. They have clearly said they will repair the ground so why not give them the opportunity to do this? I feel really very sorry for all of the people involved with the festival having to deal with this behaviour and it is a real blow to the local community who are in support of events such as this. I ask how many of the families from this team would have attended this event, I'm sure a few. It would have been a great day for a lot of local families not to mention all the hard work the bands themselves will have prepared for this too, what a great showcase for them as there aren't many events for families to attend to see them. Hello@Saltaire
  • Score: -1

8:37pm Wed 28 May 14

billycat73 says...

Couldn't agree more hello@saltaire, bullying is not a very good example to our children! Did they really ask their members to email a council official directly?? Talk about waste of tax payers funds having them read through all that tripe! I don't understand how they think the ground will be ruined forever, beyond repair? It's absurd. The festival page is full of comments eagerly awaiting a rescheduled date, and I personally want to thank the council for allowing such an exciting, positive event to come to our area! About time! :o)
Couldn't agree more hello@saltaire, bullying is not a very good example to our children! Did they really ask their members to email a council official directly?? Talk about waste of tax payers funds having them read through all that tripe! I don't understand how they think the ground will be ruined forever, beyond repair? It's absurd. The festival page is full of comments eagerly awaiting a rescheduled date, and I personally want to thank the council for allowing such an exciting, positive event to come to our area! About time! :o) billycat73
  • Score: -1

8:56pm Wed 28 May 14

Hello@Saltaire says...

It is on their page yes, to email someone called Phil Barker (with his email address on there) - not sure he would be too happy with that on a social media site? I just think it should have been dealt with in a completely different manner and any complaints should have been taken up with the Council privately in the first instance and not in their words 'ramping up a media campaign', it certainly isn't a good reflection on the club as a whole if this is how they deal with any disputes and I will now be looking at other local football teams even if we have to travel a little further.
At the end of the day the Council would not have given permission to use the land if it deemed it unsuitable for the purpose of this event and lets face it, it is their land to do with what they choose, it is just extremely unfortunate about the weather and also about the fair too - I hadn't realised they'd had to close! Disappointing time for all.
It is on their page yes, to email someone called Phil Barker (with his email address on there) - not sure he would be too happy with that on a social media site? I just think it should have been dealt with in a completely different manner and any complaints should have been taken up with the Council privately in the first instance and not in their words 'ramping up a media campaign', it certainly isn't a good reflection on the club as a whole if this is how they deal with any disputes and I will now be looking at other local football teams even if we have to travel a little further. At the end of the day the Council would not have given permission to use the land if it deemed it unsuitable for the purpose of this event and lets face it, it is their land to do with what they choose, it is just extremely unfortunate about the weather and also about the fair too - I hadn't realised they'd had to close! Disappointing time for all. Hello@Saltaire
  • Score: 1

11:21pm Wed 28 May 14

moorhead1 says...

Personally i could not give two hoots about the state of the pitches, i just want a refund of my £50.
Personally i could not give two hoots about the state of the pitches, i just want a refund of my £50. moorhead1
  • Score: 0

4:50pm Thu 29 May 14

DS1967 says...

Billycat73 - you must be looking at a different pitch, at 3pm this afternoon the damage was there to see, rut's almost a foot deep, a stick stuck out where the goalposts should be surrounded by ruts & tyre marks, an absolute mess.
I'm nothing to do with Salts Juniors but do enjoy watching the football & cricket down at Hirst Lane.
Billycat73 - you must be looking at a different pitch, at 3pm this afternoon the damage was there to see, rut's almost a foot deep, a stick stuck out where the goalposts should be surrounded by ruts & tyre marks, an absolute mess. I'm nothing to do with Salts Juniors but do enjoy watching the football & cricket down at Hirst Lane. DS1967
  • Score: 1

8:34am Fri 30 May 14

Hello@Saltaire says...

What I don't understand is why everyone seems to be behaving as if this field can never be used again! It's a council grassed area, they aren't professional pitches., the grass will grow again!
I am in support of a local festival taking place and hope to see a rescheduled date in the future.
What I don't understand is why everyone seems to be behaving as if this field can never be used again! It's a council grassed area, they aren't professional pitches., the grass will grow again! I am in support of a local festival taking place and hope to see a rescheduled date in the future. Hello@Saltaire
  • Score: 0

4:26pm Fri 30 May 14

billycat73 says...

DS1967 I hardly think you have given the organisers a fair opportunity to put things right, as the Council have confirmed in the above article they will do before the start of the season. Ridiculous, petty, impatient people! Wholly in support of this too Hello@Saltaire, as are almost 2000 fans on Facebook :)
DS1967 I hardly think you have given the organisers a fair opportunity to put things right, as the Council have confirmed in the above article they will do before the start of the season. Ridiculous, petty, impatient people! Wholly in support of this too Hello@Saltaire, as are almost 2000 fans on Facebook :) billycat73
  • Score: 1

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