MALVERN Town Council looks set to start providing football pitches for local clubs on Saturdays again.

The council owns five pitches which can be hired by football clubs for matches: two pitches at Victoria Park in Malvern Link, two off Lower Howsell Road and one at Dukes Meadow, off Pickersleigh Road.

In the past the council has employed a member of staff to work both Saturdays and Sundays during the football season.

But in recent years, weekend football has been in decline and in particular Saturday football became almost non-existent.

As a result, in 2017, the member of staff agreed to a change in contract so that their working week would be Sunday to Thursday all year round.

However, in the past two months, several clubs have contacted the council, asking for pitch bookings on Saturdays for the 2018/19 season.

The Worcestershire Football League has also asked the council to consider increasing its football provision in the light of further demand.

On Wednesday, the council's operations and planning committee agreed to employ a new part-time staff member to assist with Saturday football.

The cost will be in the region of £1,410, which will allow for a seven-hour working day on every Saturday during the football season, which runs from September until mid-May.

The current demand is for pitches for three adult teams, which will bring in about £1,500. There may be further requests for pitches but these will not be confirmed until pitch booking requests are received in July.

If Saturday football is agreed, due to the work required to keep the pitches in good condition, pitch maintenance costs are likely to rise by £2,000 to £3,500.

Coun Peter Smith said: "This is exactly the sort of thing that this council should be doing. We have got to be careful with our budget in every respect, but we're not here to bank money."

Cllr Caroline Bovey said: "Football and sports pitches are one of the core things that the council provides. We should just do this."

Cllr David Watkins said that there had been complaints from Lower Howsell Road residents about cars parking in the road when football was being played.

Operations manager Charles Porter said that he would look into the possibility of providing hardstanding for parking off the road, near the entrance to the pitches.

The committee members voted seven-zero to approve the recommendation, with one abstention.