CONCERNS have been raised by North Berwick Football Club about a community sports facility that has become a target of vandals and is “unfit for use”.

Pilmar Smith Pavilion is situated west of Law Primary School, within the Cala Homes development, offering changing room facilities; it is adjacent to a full-size grass football pitch which East Lothian Council installed in 2018.

The £570,000 pavilion contract was awarded by the council to Hadden Construction in 2020, with the building constructed in August 2021. It was named after Pilmar Smith, the ‘unofficial mayor’ of North Berwick and a former director at Heart of Midlothian FC.

However, North Berwick FC, a community club that offers football to youngsters of all ages, say there are various reasons why the facilities are not fit for purpose and have not been used. They claim there are issues with the toilets; the pavilion’s fire doors do not function properly; and problems with the heating system caused flooding over the festival period. The club also says that the adjacent grass pitch has drainage problems and the site is too small for 11-a-side use.

There has been rapid growth in numbers at the club since Covid-19, with 500 young players projected to be members by the end of 2024 and the number of girls playing having doubled.

Most of the club’s age groups play and train on the all-weather 3G pitch at the town’s Recreation Park – which, they say, they have been forced to rent out more than they would like because of this issue.

'Staring into a hurricane'

Martin Brown, chair of North Berwick FC, said: “We are absolutely desperate to get some of our primary-aged kids using this pavilion and pitch.

“We estimate by the end of this season we will have incurred close to £10,000 in additional costs renting the 3G rather than using this facility.

“The very basic thing we need is a toilet for adults and children to use. We could have had 100 kids from East Lothian playing there last weekend. It is unfit for use. Is there a date when it will be open? We don’t even think a date has been set for East Lothian Council and contractors to assess the work that needs to be done.”

The building has also become a target of vandals.

Mr Brown added: “Lots of clubs are short of space but the football club is getting short-changed in terms of space. We have one grass pitch and one 3G that we have to share with the rugby club. It feels like we are staring into a hurricane when all we are trying to do is create opportunities for kids to play football.”

On Tuesday, Mr Brown attended the monthly meeting of North Berwick Community Council to raise his concerns; members agreed to write to the council on the issue.

'Working hard'

East Lothian Council said in a statement: “We want all of our communities to have access to facilities that are high quality and fit for purpose.

“We have secured developer contributions in order to deliver Pilmar Smith Pavilion and are also keen to see this new asset in use, benefiting a wide range of user groups.

“The construction timetable was impacted by Covid and a challenging construction environment, with our teams working hard to continue to bring forward this new asset.

“Consultation with the local users and partners led to some design changes as well as works to fix a pipe affected by the cold weather which has further impacted a full opening of all areas of the building.

“We are in conversations with the contractor as part of the snagging and post-completion period to ensure that all matters that should be covered under the terms of the works are done so.”

The council says the grass pitch is “suitable for use” and will benefit from top-dressing and overseeding in the coming weeks.

It is also “aware of anti-social behaviour and graffiti” at the site.