OPPOSITION councillors in East Renfrewshire are concerned a proposed 25-year lease could mean only a “handful” of footballers can access Crookfur playing fields.

St Cadoc’s Youth Club wants to rent the land from East Renfrewshire Council and has plans to build two artificial pitches.

A 25-year lease at £1 per year has been suggested, with a public consultation on the plans to be held.

Tory councillor Barbara Grant said: “I’m wondering how is this proposal going to benefit the community, rather than a handful of people who might be in teams?”

She added it was a “bit of a worry” if the park would be used purely for football.

Councillor Grant asked: “What benefit is the community going to have for this lease over 25 years?

“The financial gain for the council over that period will be a total of £25. The council seems to have lost the plot here.”

Over 2000 people have signed a petition to ‘Save Crookfur Park’ but more than 2400 people have backed the football club’s proposal.

St Cadoc’s has said it will “self-fund” two all-weather pitches, as well as multi-use sports courts for basketball and tennis, which will be “available for the community to use free of charge”.

Those campaigning against the plans fear the “last remaining section of this old park will be lost for recreation to the public”.

Councillor Grant said: “Football is not everybody’s number one issue. I would like to see an awful lot more investigation into this before anyone thinks about giving a 25-year lease.”

Andy Cahill, the council’s environment director, said: “The whole idea is to provide community benefits.

“This team, like others the council has assisted, such as Barrhead Youth Football Club and Giffnock Soccer Club, provide real community benefit.”

The council is currently considering how to hold the consultation, which could possibly involve an external company.

Mr Cahill added: “My staff are now engaging with St Cadoc’s to discuss the lease.

“As part of that we will be making demands about public access and community benefit.”

Tory councillor Jim Swift said: “I know we want, as a council, to encourage as many children as possible to exercise and that would be welcome.

“My only question would be around how much space is going to be left for the general public to be able to access?

“It is used quite widely for dog walking and the like.”

Mr Cahill said: “It wouldn’t be our intention to exclude members of the public from the entire area just to allow the football to continue.”

Council leader Tony Buchanan added there were “aspects there that need to be looked into”.

“That’s what the consultation will do,” he said. “Really it’s about providing additional capacity across the area. This is potentially an opportunity to do that.”