Council in deep water over 3G pitch floods

Paul and Ben with the specially adapted machine
Paul and Ben with the specially adapted machine

As the flooding problem at Blairmount’s new 3G pitch rolls into a fifth month contractors admit they are ‘still baffled’ by the situation.

Now frustrated elected members are on the verge of calling for a vote of no confidence in Dumfries and Galloway Council.

At the Wigtown Area Committee meeting in Wigtown on Wednesday morning, Mid Galloway councillors Alistair Geddes and Jim McColm branded the £500,000 all weather surface “not fit for purpose” and demanded that the problem be sorted and restitution be made to Newton Stewart Football Club for loss of revenue.

The council’s principal architect John Kerr told the meeting that the manufacturers and contractors were still baffled by the situation.

Having laid “thousands” of synthetic sports pitches all over the country, Mr Kerr confessed that “none of these people have ever witnessed this phenomena”.

This week, in a last ditch attempt to cure the continuing flooding crisis at the Blairmount 3G, a machine specially made by pitch installation experts working for the contractors, specifically for the Newton Stewart pitch, has been punching more holes in the surface to aid drainage.

Last Saturday, Newton Stewart Football Club had to shift an important top of the table league game to Kirkcudbright because the pitch was waterlogged.

Club spokesman Andy McClymont said that due to the long list of cancelled and rearranged games, the club had loss £500 in revenue, while the sports hub that oversees a variety of sport organisations use the 3G facility had lost around £1800.

Councillor Geddes said: “This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs. I remember the people of Mid Galloway were euphoric about the news that the pitch was coming but now its turned us into a laughing stock. We need to get this issue resolved or it will become our DGOne. We paid good money for a facility that is not fit for purpose. Unless this is sorted in short order I will motion no confidence in the officers.”

So far all the costs involved in the remedial work done on the 3G have been covered by the manufacturers and the contractors, but the council have recently put in an extension to the drainage system to take water away from the roadway and the upper playing surface at a cost of £12,000. The soakaway has also been fitted with a positive piped overflow arrangement to ensure no possibility of filling and backing up.

In a report to elected members, council officers stated: “The general conclusion is that the flooding is being caused by a phenomenon known as a “perched water table”. This appears to happen when electrostatic forces create surface tension in the rubber infill and prevent water passing between the rubber granules.”

The flooding began last November on the £500,000 synthetic all-weather pitch, laid down in 2013, and despite numerous attempts to find the reason, no permanent solution has yet been found.