The Jimmy Johnstone Academy – How the community will benefit from a £32,000 investment at Cathkin Park

The Glasgow Times published an article today in relation to a Planning Application which was made by the Jimmy Johnstone Academy on 10 March 2020.

It is imperative when commenting on matters of public interest that the full facts are reported accurately. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in today’s Glasgow Times article.

The piece inaccurately reported the Jimmy Johnstone Academy had proposed “to place two new shipping containers in the park to be used as changing facilities.” The proposed new additions in question are not shipping containers but are, in actual fact, custom-made and ready-to-use changing facilities, which have been gifted to the Academy by the SFP Trust in what would prove to be a £32,000 investment to the existing changing facilities at Cathkin Park. Furthermore, these not-unsightly new facilities would be positioned adjacent to the existing changing room area, whilst not overlooking any neighbouring properties.

The SFP Trust have gifted such changing facilities in locations all across Scotland, and nowhere in the country has such an application been refused. The Jimmy Johnstone Academy and the SFP Trust are keen to encourage more people within the community into sport, and these additional changing facilities would also facilitate the Academy in continuing their provision of active sports to ladies and girls along with vulnerable adults with mental health issues. The work of the Academy in the community can be read about on their Twitter Account or on the SFP Trust web-pages.

Once COVID-19 restrictions in sport are eased, the additional space afforded by these new facilities would also help the Jimmy Johnstone Academy to fulfill social distancing measures throughout the changing areas.

In respect of the application process itself, the Glasgow Times article stated the applicant had “not had any communication with local residents,” and Chris Carus, Mount Florida Community Council, added that the Academy had made the application “with a low profile, they haven’t had any consultation with other park users.” To the contrary, even though the application for two fit-for-purpose changing containers is regarded as somewhat minor in nature, the Jimmy Johnstone Academy has adhered to the statutory planning process. There is no requirement to advertise such an application due to its minor nature. The local authority undertake the Neighbour Notification element of the application, not the Academy. It is also worth noting the Community Council – of which Chris Carus is the Chair – as well as all elected members would be automatically notified of this application, along with all other planning applications in March 2020, as per normal internal procedure. Everyone must respect the rights of anyone to object or indeed to formally support any Planning Application, however, many of the comments seem to be irrelevant to the application; very strange!

Throughout the 12 weeks of lockdown, during which the Jimmy Johnstone Academy have not had the presence within Cathkin Park that they normally would have pre-lockdown, there has been an alarming increase in vandalism within the Park. This has included graffiti, major littering, and damage to the pitch area itself. These concerns have never been an issue during the ten years the Academy have been based at Cathkin Park, where they have looked after the pitch and surrounding areas at their own cost. The deterioration of the area is a stark reminder of what would happen to the Park if the Academy were not maintaining it to such a high standard.

The Glasgow Times concluded by stating that “The Jimmy Johnstone Academy were approached for comment, but did not reply.” The Academy were approached at 17:30 hours on 2 June 2020 and responded to the author of this article at 20:00 hours, who, at 21:29 hours, requested further dialogue on Friday 5 June 2020. Before this right of response took place, the article was published by the Glasgow Times.

It could never have been envisaged that the investment of £32,000 to the changing facilities within an important community resource would garner such opposition. The Jimmy Johnstone Academy is hopeful the City Council will recommend the application is approved in the not too distant future as the Academy try and prepare for all of their community work to not only continue but also expand post lock-down. Given the Scottish Government, the City Council and indeed the SFA’s wish to see an increase in active participation in sport, particularly around girls and ladies football, the loss of these facilities would be very disappointing to say the least!

Should anyone wish to comment on this application, please do so by referring to planning application 20/00761/FUL or by clicking this LINK.

Paul John Dykes

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