‘I just don’t think it’s safe’

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The Pakuranga Rugby League Community Sports Club has approached the Howick Local Board about work it needs carried out to its Ti Rakau Park facilities. Times photo Wayne Martin

An east Auckland sports club is asking the Howick Local Board for support to upgrade its ageing facilities and says the work is needed to ensure its players’ safety.

Pakuranga Rugby League Community Sports Club chairman Mike Slater addressed the board’s members at their most recent business meeting.

He said the club has called Ti Rakau Park home since 1968.

Slater said he was talking to the board to “hopefully start some conversations around issues we have at the park” and to ask for its support.

Work carried out as part of the Eastern Busway public transport is causing issues for the club and its home ground, he said.

“It’s having a major impact on the fields. A lot of the concerns we have are health and safety concerns.

“We were promised sand-slitting drainage on the field about 15 years ago.

“With the busway, it’s [the work has] been deferred and it’s causing major problems with the drainage and the fact the fields, especially last season, were so cut up that we were getting injuries.”

Slater said the club is also dealing with issues relating to its inferior training lights.

That problem ran in conjunction with the problem relating to the fields, he said.

“Our lights are rather woeful. We’ve been asking for many years to get an improvement on this.

“I know with the busway and road upgrade we will have better access lighting, but three training lights that light a third of five fields aren’t adequate for the amount of teams we have.”

Slater said the third major issue related to the club’s changing sheds at Ti Rakau Park.

“Our 1960s changing sheds are woefully out of date. The busway will have an effect on that as well.

“They are open-aired and any trucks driving past will have a good look into our showers.”

Board deputy chairperson Bo Burns asked Slater how many teams the club has and when was the last time it had money granted or funding provided by the board.

Slater replied Covid had “taken a hit” on the club in the past couple of years but it had 15-25 teams.

He said the club had never received a grant or funding from the board.

Board member Bruce Kendall asked Slater about the last time the club had asked for funding and if it had done an assessment on the sort of lighting it wanted and what it would cost.

Slater said the club had last applied for funding sometime between 2015 and 2017 but due to an administration error missed out.

“We are very reliant on [the council’s] parks [department] for this,” he said.

“They did put some new light bulbs in a couple of years back.

“We’ve been in constant communication with the parks people to try to get some form of consultation for it, but we’re just waiting for a reply.”

Board member John Spiller asked Slater what his priority was out of the sand-slitting for drainage and lighting.

Slater said the drainage was important but his view is the lighting is a “little bit more important”.

“We have a lot of 12-, 14-, and 16-year-old girls running around our fields and the lighting is particularly bad.

“There are a lot of bushes and trees around the outside and I just don’t think it’s safe.

“If something happened along those lines, that’s just something that needs to be highlighted.”

The board thanked Slater for raising the club’s concerns.