A community pitch which opened after locals raised £80,000 has locked its gates to the public in a row over vandalism and chewing gum.
The astroturf pitch in Gullane, East Lothian, opened six years ago after a fundraising effort overseen by Gullane Sports Development Trust.
However at the weekend the trust announced it was shutting the playing ground to the public for a week because of damage caused by rulebreakers.
And it warned that unless a solution could be found to the problem it could be closed permanently to the community.
The all-weather pitch, which is available for hire to local groups and clubs, opened in 2015 after locals helped raised the huge amount of money and is used for rugby, football, hockey, cricket and basketball sides.
It is off the village’s Memorial Recreation Park, which has a football pitch, home to Gullane Athletic Amateur FC.
The pitch is available for booking at £20 an hour with a reduced £15 an hour for extended bookings to local clubs and teams.
East Lothian Council agreed to provide land for the facility, next to Gullane Primary School, and additional funds were found through grants from local businesses and available streams.
On Friday the trust took to social media to announce the decision to lock the gates.
It said: “[We] have had to take the unwelcome decision to lock Gullane astro for a week due to the state it has been left in recently.
“Litter everywhere, chewing gum stuck to the surface, hockey goals damaged and kids riding bikes which damages the surface.
“If these facilities aren’t looked after then they will be closed permanently unless they have been hired for rental.”
Signs on the gate outline rules which include: No scooters, no bikes, no food, no chewing gum and no pets.
The rules also call for all litter to be put in the bin at the school gates, as the trust pointed out “the council will not provide a bin inside the astro so please use the one at the school gates or take rubbish home with you”.
The announcement sparked a row among residents with many backing the trust over the decision while others described it as an overreaction.
One resident said on Facebook “If the toe is infected you don’t amputate the leg”.
However another added: “After all the hard work by certain individuals to set this facility up, it’s appalling to see it being taken for granted.
“These facilities are a privilege, not a right.”
By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp
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