CALLS have been made for improvements to be made to a playing field that has turned into a 'marshland'.

Councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld is urging Inverclyde Council to take action on the small pitch at Gourock Park.

It has not been in use for some time and Mr Ahlfeld believes a potentially excellent local facility is going to waste as a result.

He said: "There were three excellent grass pitches when Gourock playing fields were opened.

"The two main pitches have been immaculately maintained over the years, but the smaller pitch has fallen into disrepair.

"Initially this was known as the hockey pitch and many games were played on its excellent surface.

"Rugby, football and cricket have also been played on it, but the park has been unusuable for at least 15 years because of drainage pipes being damaged, allegedly by heavy trucks during Gourock Highland Games.

"It's a great pity this terrific small pitch has not been maintained - it would be of great benefit to many children as a kickabout area, and ease the pressure on the excellent 3G pitch in the park." Councillor Ahlfeld said that, when he ran Gourock YAC, the club had asked the council on three occasions for permission to fix the drainage themselves if they were given priority use.

He said: "All the requests were refused, and over the years the park has become a marshland.

"The council has done a magnificent job over the past five years or so in providing 3G pitches throughout Inverclyde.

"It could be argued we have gone from being one of the worst local authorities in Scotland in terms of providing facilities, to being one of the best.

"Compared to the more than �20 million which has been spent on leisure facilities, it would only cost a relatively small amount to bring this pitch back to a serviceable condition.

"With a little imagination it could be utilised as a multi-games area, for training or as a pitch for very young children." Councillor Ahlfeld said many members of the community had fond memories of the park.

He added: "In 1959, Gourock Primary School played in a replay of the McLean cup final against Holmscroft on this pitch.

"The Gourock school won 3-1 after drawing at Cappielow in the first match - and it was estimated that 1,500 people atttended the replay." No comment was available from the council.