A PETITION aiming to secure the future of Croft playing fields was handed to Swindon Mayoress Teresa Page yesterday.

The fields are currently included in discussions regarding the long-term lease of the Croft Leisure Centre, along with the town’s other facilities.

And there are worries there is not enough precautions in place to stop the land being closed off to the public, or to prevent developers building on the fields once they leave council control.

The plans form part of Swindon Council’s Leisure And Culture Change Programme, which is seeking to address the council’s estimated £54m budget gap over the next three years.

They aim to transfer the facilities via long-term leases, allowing the council to reduce the considerable costs of providing leisure facilities and services, while at the same time making them financially sustainable.

The petition, organised by Pipers Area Residents’ Association received 1,748 signatures.

It aims to take the fields out of the lease discussions.

Residents hope that the council will debate the matter and safeguard the future of the fields.

Claire Bouverie-Brine, a member of PARA, said: “We want to make sure that the fields remain available for the public to use.

“I feel really strongly about this as do 1,700 other people.”

Residents went to the council offices, in Euclid Street, to hand the petition to the mayoress and they hope an extraordinary meeting will take place which will see the fields removed from the lease discussions.

Linda Kasmaty, who lives near the field, said: “The reason we don’t want the fields to be part of the leisure centre lease is because anything could happen to it in three years and we want to maintain this vital facility for our community.”

The mayoress said: “It is fantastic to see the public come together in this way, and to get so many signatures shows the strength of feeling.

“I wish them well with their aim.”

Coun Nadine Watts (Lab, Old Town) has also been a major part of the campaign and handed over the petition.

She said: “I think this petition perfectly shows the local residents’ concerns and the momentum has kept going and going.

“There have been so many posters in homes and businesses which is fantastic and has helped this campaign.

“Hopefully we’ll now have a meeting and the matter can be discussed, and the right outcome can be reached.”