Deaf football club - 'The toilets smell of faeces and we're forced to pick up broken glass from the pitches' (From Times Series)
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Barnet Deaf FC demands refund from Barnet Council over 'appalling' service at Montrose Park sports pitches
A team of deaf footballers is demanding its money back from Barnet Council after receiving what it has described as “appalling” treatment at its home ground.
Barnet Deaf FC, which plays at the council-owned Montrose Park sports pitches in Burnt Oak, says its members feel discriminated against due to a lack of communication from the parks team and poor facilities at the ground.
In a scathing letter to the authority, the club’s secretary Sebastian Cunliffe claimed showers at the pavilion have barely worked in over two years, and said the toilets regularly smell of faeces and urine.
He also said players have been forced to clean up shards of broken glass from the un-manned pitches, which the club pays more than £600 a year to hire.
In his letter, Mr Cunliffe says the council has repeatedly told the club the showers are fixed, but on countless occasions players have turned up to find no hot water or no running water at all.
He claims the club is facing action from the English Deaf Football Association after they were forced to send a team from Sunderland home without showering.
He wrote: “We deserve, at the minimum, a full season discount for enduring constant freezing, showers - sometimes even no water this year - going home muddy and facing poor customer service that is inconsiderate, previously discriminatory, ignorant, and unhelpful with repeated false information.”
The club previously made discrimination claims over the council’s Pitchline service – a phone hotline providing weekly audio updates on the condition of sports pitches across the borough.
The authority has since begun posting the information on its website, but the club says a text service should also be included to provide them with the same access as players who are able to hear the notifications over the phone.
Mr Cunliffe says his players are “envious” of facilities in nearby Regent’s Park and Hackney, but that the club is tied to Barnet because of the location and financial situation of its players.
He wrote: “We are a poor club as many of our players are on social welfare and can only afford minimal subs so we can only afford the rates offered by Barnet Council. Cheap rates, however, is not an excuse for appalling service.”
Barnet Council said a faulty gas pipe, and later a broken boiler, was responsible for the problems with the showers at Montrose Park, but refused to accept claims of discrimination.
A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of an on-going problem with the showers at Montrose Park which has taken some time to resolve. The council has apologised to the club for the inconvenience caused and offered them the opportunity to move to an alternative location when it became clear there was a significant issue, but they chose to remain at the site.
“The football pitch service that the club have opted to buy from the council does not include manned facilities, and this is the basis the club has booked and utilised these services for a number of years.
“Although we understand the club’s frustrations, we do not accept the charge of discrimination. The club has until this year been accessing pitch line for the status on the pitches, but when they advised the council they were no longer able to do so we took their complaint seriously.
“The information was made available on our website which provides the same updated information on the status of the pitches every Friday, as well as the pitch line recorded message.”
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