A junior football scheme which aims to help discover Llandudno’s next Neville Southall and Joey Jones has been given a major boost – thanks to cash confiscated from North Wales crooks.
A partnership by local sports clubs to restore the former football pitch at the town’s Trinity Avenue playing fields has been awarded £2,500 from a special fund set up by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner and football fan Arfon Jones.
The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT).
Much of the money was recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
It is one of 15 grants totalling over £40,000 given to support schemes by community organisations with an online vote deciding the successful applicants and almost 10,000 votes cast.
Llandudno Cricket Club, Llandudno Albion FC and Llandudno FC Junior Section have come together to restore the pitch which was there until 2011 and develop the playing fields as a junior football hub.
Trinity Avenue Playing Fields is situated in the heart of a Communities First Area and for many years had been a playing field for local young people and had a football pitch until 2011.
The money will be spent on new goalposts and a perimeter fence to stop balls going on to the railway.
Llandudno Albion, an entirely local side, have won two successive promotions and are looking to develop as a club in their own right having used the pitch at Llandudno Football Club for the past three seasons.
Llandudno FC junior section is growing all of the time and more and more local children are becoming involved and the junior section can boast over 20 teams which consists of approximately 300 local children.
Their success has meant that there is now a lack of pitches in Llandudno to and this partnership will see the Trinity Avenue pitch restored to its former glory and used as a Junior Football hub and the home pitch of Llandudno Albion FC.
Paul Cheung, Manager of Llandudno Albion, said: “We started Llandudno Albion three years ago but we’re now in the Lock Stock Welsh Alliance and need our own pitch and to provide somewhere for the junior footballers to play.
“Trinity Avenue always used to have a pitch and this money means we will be able to restore it, put up goalposts and dug-outs and mke sure that not only is there somewhere for young people to play but a football club for them to progress to as they get older.”
Conwy County Councillor Ronnie Hughes is backing the plan and he said: “Junior football has really taken off and it’s imperative we find a new pitch if we’re going to discover the next Neville Southalls and Joey Joneses.”
Conwy County’s other successful project was Llandudno-based Hope Restored who have been given £2,000 to help them develop their range of free services to homeless and needy people in the area.
Their team of volunteers run twice-weekly drop-in sessions at the Lighthouse Community Church in Llandudno’s West Shore as well as hot meals and drinks and help and advice on filling in forms for personal and housing benefits.
They also provide good quality second hand clothes and toiletries as well as tents and sleeping bags for those sleeping rough and a food parcel service.
Brenda Fogg, who founded Hope Restored seven years ago, said: “There are more and more people becoming homeless and we’re providing 25 hot meals at each session and this money will help us provide more hot food in the winter months.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who jointly presented the awards with Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard, said: “I was delighted when I took office this year that I was able to continue the good work of the Your Community, Your Choice fund and support community projects across North Wales.
“This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support, and I would like to thank all of this year applicants who submitted innovative and interesting projects, and for the public for taking part in the decision-making through our on-line voting system.
“This year 29 projects went forward to the public vote and almost 10,000 votes were cast and that response demonstrated to me that communities can work together to make our public places safer.
“Community groups such as yours are vital to the citizens of north Wales and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”
Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “The funding which you have received has been made available by the Police and Crime Commissioner and through assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
“This is a particularly vital message as, through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.
“Operation Scorpion aims to target all types of serious crime and to date it has recovered £1.3m worth of cash and assets and almost £300,000 worth of illegal drugs and ensured that 87 criminals are spending over 350 years behind bars.
“Money confiscated from these criminals is now helping to support communities such as yours.
“Every day our work involves working closely with communities and organisations across the whole of North Wales, and it is vital that these strong ties and links continue so that we can continue to make North Wales a safer place.”
PACT chairman David Williams added: “We are delighted that we can assist in the administration of this fund.
“I think the breadth of our grant giving right across North Wales, from the tip of the west to the furthest part of the east, really sends a strong message to communities to access this money, it’s there for them.
“Very appropriately, one of the conditions is that the people who apply for this money have to be doing something that combats anti-social behaviour or addresses crime and disorder in some way.
“The aims Your Community, Your Choice scheme also coincide with the objectives of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan so it creates a virtuous circle.”