FOOTBALLERS in Mirfield have been told: Carry on playing.
The 300 young players with Battyeford Sporting Club have won their battle to save their playing fields.
And they were celebrating after the leader of Kirklees Council, Clr Kath Pinnock, stressed that the council had no plans to dispose of West Mills playing fields.
The future of the site - used by the club for many years - had been in doubt for months.
Mirfield's largest employer, bedding manufacturer John Cotton, wrote to Clr Pinnock informally in November outlining its aspirations to expand and build on the adjoining playing fields.
The proposals sparked a huge public outcry as the soccer club was pushing for National Lottery cash to further develop the site. Now the club has been assured the plans can continue.
Clr Pinnock said today: "I did not want to pursue this issue further until it had been put into the public arena in order to get the views of the people of Mirfield.
"The main issues from the council's point of view were that the approach by John Cotton's brought into the spotlight two key council priorities - preserving playing fields and open space, and supporting the local economy and local jobs.
"In putting this matter into the public arena the questions I posed were: What do Mirfield people think of this idea? Is there a suitable site in Mirfield for replacement playing fields? And is it acceptable to the popular and long-established Battyeford Sporting Club, which has more than 300 young members?
"It is clear the people of Mirfield do not support the idea, and that there is not an acceptable replacement for the playing fields.
"Battyeford Sporting Club has a lottery submission being processed to develop facilities on the site. That is something supported by the council, whose officers helped the club prepare that bid."
She said she believed Cotton's had the interests of local people at heart.
"Council officers will continue to discuss with John Cotton's other options for its future development," she said.
The bedding firm has never submitted any formal planning application so the issue was never debated by the council.
David Rawcliffe, secretary of the soccer club, said: "It's fantastic news. We have spent a lot of time and money in fighting these proposals but now we can get on with our development plans. All our teams and players will be delighted."
The news was given a cautious welcome by local councillor Martyn Bolt.
He organised a public meeting in December to allow users of the fields and other members of the public to address and question Kirklees Cabinet members and representatives from John Cotton's.
"This goes a small way to answering questions I raised last week at Kirklees Council. It doesn't give an unequivocal statement, but an indication of hope."