Canaries relocation will hurt Hitchin’s community

Hitchin Town FC

Hitchin Town FC - Credit: Archant

Fears were raised this week about the loss of community programmes if Hitchin Town are forced from their historic home Top Field to an edge-of-town site.

The club are fighting a property developer’s proposals to build a supermarket at the much-loved ground after the club’s landlords, the Cow Commoners, announced a ground development proposal on Green Belt land on the A602 Stevenage Road.

Football club manager Mark Burke said: “We run community schemes out of Top Field. We help people with in our ‘Ability Counts’ programme. We have 10-12 adults with learning difficulties from 20 years-old to men and women in their 60s. They identify with Top Field, they love coming down here. I even see their smiling faces after a game helping to tidy up.

“Many of them live locally and actually walk to the ground – if we were forced to relocate I can’t see too many of them being able to make the trip.

“Top Field is at the heart of our community – the A602 site isn’t.

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“We also invite schools to home games. If we’re forced to move how many schools would take their pupils over to the busy Stevenage Road on a Saturday?”

A spokesman for the Cow Commoners Trust told the Comet: “The aim of the trust is to provide charitable use for sports in Hitchin. It would sound like the things mentioned would be ideal for the new site. Access for all people must be paramount.”

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Ian Mann licensee for the Canary Club said: “We run many different community schemes at Top Field including Life Getter, which is a support group offering help to people affected by strokes, attracting 30 to 40 people. They are fearful about losing it if the football club moves. They told me Top Field is at the heart of the community and is perfect for ease of accessibility.”

Club Secretary Roy Izzard added: “The proposals to relocate will hurt so many people in this town – not just football fans. I would urge everyone to attend the march on Saturday, December 6 and the free game afterwards.”

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