COUNCILLOR Chris Mitchell cited “a clear and obvious community benefit” in explaining his reasons behind backing a £2.9million hockey facility in Worcester.

The collaboration between Worcester Hockey Club and RGS Worcester will be part funded by a £2.1million loan facilitated by Worcester City Council.

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Cllr Mitchell backed the loan as part of a Policy & Resources Committee decision that has been criticised by fans of Worcester City Football Club hoping to secure a homecoming at Perdiswell.

Worcester City Supporters’ Trust overturned the council’s refusal of planning permission for Perdiswell on appeal and has always insisted it would not need council funds for a ground, just access to the land.

Trust chairman Dave Wood last month said there remained “no will” for a stadium on the site from councillors but the representative for St Clement reiterated his call to see a formal proposal and hear less “cage rattling” from activists.

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“The council has made an investment with a clearly-defined return and a clear understanding of what the community benefit of the hockey facility is,” said Cllr Mitchell.

“The hockey club is not a professional organisation, the football club is a semi-professional organisation that pays players. In my view there is a very clear delineation between the two applications.

“The hockey club engaged with us the whole time, had a clear business plan and are going to provide a return on the investment that the city council makes as well as having a clear and obvious community benefit.

“Every school gets access to those pitches in the daytime. That is a massive community asset, schoolchildren who do not get to play hockey on an astroturf pitch will be able to.

“More than 500 members of the hockey club will have access to those pitches, there is a squad of say 20 from Worcester City Football Club would get to play at that stadium.

“I asked that at planning (for Perdiswell), will other people be able to play on the stadium pitch? At the time the answer was no because the plan has a three-metre wall around it.

“I am talking about a plan that is a year-and-a-bit old, until they come back and tell us what they want to do we cannot assess it.

“There are lots of ways of trying to compare the two but there cannot be a comparison because there has been no proposal from the football club.

“When they give us a proposal, if it is evenly-balanced with the hockey club and the council decides not to approve it then people can ask questions, until then I don’t think that is fair.

“That is why I think the football club needs to spend less time cage rattling and more time developing something to present to us.”