Stadium fees are criticised

Paul Billington at the newly-refurbished Woodbourn Road Stadium
Paul Billington at the newly-refurbished Woodbourn Road Stadium
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Families are now being charged to use Sheffield’s Woodbourn Road track which could threaten community access, say critics.

People have been asked for payment when they used the Atterclifee track after years of the facility being free.

Campaigners say they were not told fees would be introduced when Sheffield Council demolished Don Valley Stadium and transferred the replacement Woodbourn Road to Sheffield Hallam University.

Christine Meleady, an equality campaigner in Sheffield, said: “It was the only free athletics facility and now it has gone, when payment was never said to be on the cards.

“We thought it was transferred for the community benefit, that it was part of the deal as well as the university using it for their students.

“Some people just can’t afford it, especially if they have children.”

Adults are being charged £4.20 to use the track and children £3.10.

About £325,000 was spent cleaning and refurbishing Woodbourn Road.

A university spokesman said: “It has taken a few months to put facilities in place so we can accept payments, which is why we haven’t charged a fee until now.

“Signs have been up around the stadium recently to notify people, and the athletics clubs have been aware for some time.

“These small charges represent good value.

“Charging a small fee will help support our long term commitment to providing a home for athletics in Sheffield and to maintain facilities to a good standard.”

The council said charging was ‘discussed from the outset’ with the university and athletics clubs.

Paul Billington, director of culture and environment, added: “Money generated will help cover any running costs and repairs and invest in new equipment for the athletics community.

“Of course, athletes previously paid for the use of Don Valley Stadium and have always paid for the use of the English Institute of Sport. Woodbourn is no different.”