COUNCIL bosses have agreed a new pricing structure for a state-of-the-art synthetic sports pitch.
Hartlepool Borough Council has reviewed its hire fees and charges for the floodlit 3G synthetic pitch at Grayfields, off Jesmond Gardens, in the town.
The 3G Synthetic pitch has been open to the public for more than two years, and in that time there have been a range of prices.
Officers wanted to simplify it and to also introduce a new half-price pitch fee in a bid to attract smaller groups and clubs and boost income.
Third generation of 3G synthetic pitches look like natural grass and can be used with rubber studs.
The all-weather pitches are more durable than sand-filled astroturf pitches.
Independent councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, was away so Mayor Stuart Drummond delegated the meeting to independent councillor Hilary Thompson.
The council used to charge £54 for a “casual” adult booking of the full-size pitch with floodlights and £48.90 to use it without floodlights, unlike other venues in the region who have one set price.
That has now been changed so the cost to hire the full pitch for an hour with or without floodlights is £54.
But that reduces to £45 for adult active card members.
That compares with £90 to hire the pitch at Dyke House School, £75 at Durham Soccer Arena and £77 at Goals Sunderland, which are all 3G pitches.
There is also a range of other fees for juniors, private block bookings and school use.
A report to the meeting said: “There are currently 19 different charges in existence.
“Despite this, there is no existing option built in to allow teams to train or play upon half the pitch only which is the case with other similar facilities locally.
“As a result, smaller clubs and groups are finding it financially impossible to use the facility and we are losing custom to these other facilities who do offer this sort of opportunity.”
For a “casual” adult to hire half the pitch for an hour it is now £32.40 and £27 for an active card member.
That compares with £30 for a third of a pitch at Dyke House, and £52 for Durham Soccer Arena and Goals Sunderland.
Coun Thompson said: “We are still competitive, in fact we were very competitive before, and it is a good move to make it more accessible for smaller groups and clubs.”
John Mennear, the council’s assistant director (community services), said: “We would not be suggesting this if we were heaving and there was not a gap in the market.”
He added: “We feel that the pricing structure is acceptable.”
Coun Thompson added: “The hope is that the smaller groups use it more and increase the income.
“It is still competitive in price and it seems the obvious thing to do.”