FOUR football pitches in Helensburgh and Lomond could benefit from an area-wide maintenance funding package of nearly £500,000.

Plans to improve a total of 16 2G or 3G surfaces across Argyll and Bute, plus a further one being installed next year, were considered by councillors on Thursday.

These include the two pitches at Hermitage Academy, the Kirkmichael pitch in Helensburgh, and Bendarroch Park in Garelochhead.

The proposed £475,000 spend is a surplus of money budgeted by the council for maintenance of such facilities two years ago, and would help maintain the pitches for over six years.

A report for today’s meeting by Pippa Milne, executive director of development and infrastructure, said: “At its June 2016 meeting, the council earmarked a budget for maintenance of 3G pitches across Argyll and Bute.

“These works are now substantially complete and following competitive tender returns there is surplus funding available.

“This report proposes that the surplus funding be utilised to procure the specialist equipment required to maintain the all-weather pitches and to meet the costs of carrying out the day to day maintenance associated with the pitches for a six and a half years’ timescale.

“Without this equipment there will be continued pressure on capital budgets to carry out rejuvenations.

"Significant issues may arise at the 3G sites where it is highly likely that the surfaces would not be able to be maintained in an appropriate state for playing.

“There would be a risk that the life expectancy of the 3G would be vastly diminished and also an increased risk of injury form those using the 3G pitches for sport and recreation.

“It is recommended that approval be granted for the remainder of the allocation for 3G pitches to be utilised to fund the council carrying out routine maintenance at the pitches.”

It adds that after the six and a half years, there will be “a cost pressure to the council for continued maintenance”.

Live Argyll Leisure Trust is responsible for lets at the Academy and Bendarroch Park, while Argyll College oversees the Kirkmichael surface.

It is proposed in the report that the council’s operations team will maintain the Bendarroch and Kirkmichael pitches, while Hermitage’s are maintained by others under the schools contract.

Ms Milne added: “Where possible area-based staff will carry out the maintenance work to reduce travel time and unproductive time.

“The specialist team will be utilised across the area only when required to do so.

“It is proposed that operatives be trained up to carry out all-weather pitch maintenance and that specialist equipment be procured – the total annual cost for these teams being £66,500 per year.

“In addition two tractors, oscillating brushes and all weather pitch equipment will be required at a cost of £19,100.

“From the available funding a six and a half year maintenance package can be provided for those pitches to be managed by the leisure trust.