Councils shut snow-covered sports pitches

Outdoor sport slid to a halt last weekend and probably beyond as local authorities closed snow-covered pitches and athletics fields.

Leeds City Council said hundreds of its pitches were closed until further notice and club matches would have to be refixtured.

"Grounds staff are clearing pitches or being utilised elsewhere such as clearing pavements in the city," said a council representative.

"We had a similar state in February, when snow closed everything for a couple of weeks. We have good links with sports groups and associations, so knock-on effects were minimal."

Kirklees council, also in Yorkshire, scotched all football and rugby matches on council-managed and school pitches last weekend.

"Due to the heavy snow the pitches are unplayably icy and we have taken the decision to cancel all matches this weekend," said a rep.

Staff must inspect safety of grounds before games were played, he said. Maintenance staff would make "extra effort" to prepare the pitches for next weekend's fixtures.

Ipswich Borough Council cancelled all football matches on its parks and sports centre surfaces to "preserve the pitches and reduce future cancellations", it said.

"We are also advising people to take care when walking in the town’s parks; while the Old Cemetery is closed to both pedestrians and vehicles."

Brighton & Hove City Council meanwhile has closed golf courses and pitches at sports and leisure centres as well as all its cemeteries.

The authority has also called on 4x4 vehicle owners to come forward to help it deliver essential services such as meals, home-care staff and district nurses to isolated residents.

"Despite thorough planning, we have to recognise there are limited resources and heavy snowfalls or a prolonged freeze cause serious disruption," said a representative.

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