Portsmouth athletics club fears for the future as dispute over Mountbatten floodlights continues

Athletes on the Mountbatten Centre track
Athletes on the Mountbatten Centre track
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THE boss of Portsmouth’s main athletics club says its future could be thrown into jeopardy if problems surrounding faulty lighting at a leisure centre aren’t resolved urgently.

Phil Budd of City of Portsmouth AC says its elite members may walk out if authorities do not get to work repairing out-of-action floodlights at the Mountbatten Centre, which are vital for runners who train at night.

If this happens again, it will harm the viability of this club, as they will end up going to a club where there are proper facilities.

Phil Budd, chairman of City of Portsmouth Athletics Club

As revealed by The News, Portsmouth City Council bosses say the lights – deemed unsafe since City Wide Taxis driver Albert Xhediku was electrocuted on a nearby football pitch earlier this year – could be switched off for at least another six months.

That’s because council officials have yet to come to an agreement with centre operator Parkwood Community Leisure over the extent of repairs that need to be done, which could cost more than £250,000.

Parkwood has said it would pick up the bill.

Cycle groups have already said that it has affected their ability to train.

Now Mr Budd, chairman of City of Portsmouth, which has about 470 members, says it is leaving his organisation in a dire situation. He said: ‘The big thing for us is, our existing athletes went through this last year when the lights went out and we had to find an alternative venue.

‘If this happens again, it will harm the viability of this club, as they will end up going to a club where there are proper facilities.

‘The future of our club will be in jeopardy if this is not urgently resolved.

‘And we are probably on the crest of a wave at the moment; we have so many national champions.

‘There are some who could be household names in a few years, and those are the ones that most want and need these facilities during the winter. There are internationals rising through their age groups; they will be at the Olympics next time, for sure.’

The situation also hampers youngsters wanting to play football in the evening.

One grandfather said his two 18-year-old grandchildren were being prevented from playing with their newly created seven-a-side team.

He said: ‘It’s putting people off from playing football and any other sports down there.’

The council says Parkwood is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the floodlights. The company has said it is ‘waiting for permission to proceed with the order and complete the work as soon as possible’.