COUNCIL bosses have performed a remarkable U-turn on plans to start charging football clubs for the use of public fields across Tendring.

Residents in the district were left up in arms after Tendring Council announced plans to start asking for payment for the use of public football fields.

The new measures were announced on Thursday, sparking a wave of criticism. 

“They advised us that we're not allowed to play on the football pitches to train the children on Saturdays to preserve the pitches," said Dennis Langham, who is training the under 10s at Holland Football Club. 

“They then quickly put out a message saying you could pay £22 to use the pitches, after saying they were trying to preserve the pitches, so it was a bit of a money-making scheme I think on their behalf.” 

The council received a great number of complaints about the controversial decision and quickly revoked it on Friday, allowing clubs to once again train for free. 

Mr Langham added: “I think it's a good thing, but I also think it's a bad thing, because why are they trying to force grassroots children who are from four-years-old to pay more money when they already pay fees as it is.

“It would have impacted the kids massively for the whole weekend - Saturdays, that's their main day.  

“No one's at school, adults mainly don't work on the weekends and that's the time they get into training.” 

Mick Barry, Tendring Council cabinet member for leisure and public realm, confirmed there will be no charge for the use of the public fields for training. 

“We were looking to introduce fees for training use by football clubs to recover the costs of grounds maintenance, but we have listened to the feedback given and will not be doing so,” said Mr Barry. 

“However, training sessions must be booked to ensure there aren’t any clashes with other users and to provide a contact if play needs to be called off due to ground conditions or weather.

"Where pitches are being used commercially, we have a duty of care to check risk assessments and insurance are in place.  

“We would like to restate our commitment and support for grassroots football, and we will continue to work with clubs to promote the sport across the district.”