Six-year-old in tears as she pleads with councillors to save Bothwell football pitch

On the night Scotland came agonisingly close to reaching the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup, a six-year-old girl was left in tears as South Lanarkshire Council threatened to take away her football pitch.

Bothwell residents left the top table in no doubt they do not approve of the proposed site for the new nursery

Hollie Cringles was one of several children at St Bride’s Primary in Bothwell last night (Wednesday) for a public meeting to discuss proposals to build a new nursery on the football pitch at Appledore Crescent.

She sat patiently with her hand in the air for over an hour, waiting to speak to council representatives – including Bothwell and Uddingston councillors Maureen Devlin, Kenny McCreary and Jim McGuigan – before she started to feel as if she was being ignored.

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At this point, mum Adele stood up to fight her daughter’s corner. She said: “Hollie wanted to speak. She is six and she knows her own mind.

“She just felt that she wasn’t even getting listened to and I had to speak up for her. She knows how to speak and she can speak for herself.”

Like most of the residents who turned out on Wednesday, Hollie was determined to save the park.

Football fan Hollie said: “All the people in Scotland, all of the kids think it’s cool. All of the doggies like playing in it and I think it’s really good for people.

“Sometimes we play football, sometimes we go on my bike and I make new friends.”

Councillor McGuigan – who chaired the meeting – came under fire for suggesting “the type of people” the council were trying to help by placing the nursery at Appledore included less well off or single parents.

One resident complained: “Your comments are disgusting and not fit for office.”

The new nursery plans come following a Scottish Government initiative to increase the amount of childcare for three- and four-year-olds from August 2020.

Head of education with responsibility for early years projects Lynn Sherry said: “We have a statutory responsibility to have plans for all three or four-year-olds.

“In Bothwell and Uddingston, we are 190 places short. Provision would need to be built in this area.”

Councillor McGuigan added: “We are here to listen to your opinions.

“It is a consultation for you to suggest other things. It may be that what you think is an ideal site has already been looked at and ruled out.”

However, estates manager for education Vance Sinclair said: “If there are other sites that we have looked at and may have overlooked, we will take another look.”

Residents repeatedly raised the issue of traffic and road safety in Knockburnie Road and Appledore Crescent among others.

South Lanarkshire Council’s roads department hadn’t raised any objections to the initial plans, but it emerged they hadn’t performed a road survey to measure the levels of traffic at present.

Residents also voiced concerns about the loss of greenspace and the fact that Appledore is “priority greenspace” which is not to be developed.

Ms Sherry said that the planning department had told them otherwise and that they would “need to double check that”.

Stephen Bark - Local Democracy Reporting Service