Maitland City Council’s new draft policy on sporting ground closure procedures goes to a vote tomorrow night but it passed its first unofficial test on Saturday with flying colours.

The Maitland Pickers agreed to be guinea pigs when it appeared the Mercury Shield clash against Kurri Kurri would be postponed because of the state of the Maitland Sportsground.

Pickers president John Thomas took a proactive approach and called off the under-18 and Presidents Cup fixtures scheduled for Saturday, allowing extra time for surface water covering the ground and its surrounds to be removed and for the playing arena and surrounds to meet agreed health and safety guidelines for the

remaining two matches.

Thomas and a team of helpers were at the ground early and used super-sopper equipment to remove the surface water and then proceeded with a check that resulted in the ground meeting an agreed point scale deeming it suitable for play.

Under the new policy, calls on potential ground

closures will still be made by council staff on Friday and clubs will then have the opportunity to undertake

necessary work to ensure their facilities are safe for players and spectators.

This will put a great deal of emphasis back on club committees as potential liability for injuries caused by unsuitable playing surfaces now will rest with the club.

Council’s policy is sensible and responsible, and it is hoped that clubs use it in the same manner.

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