A Cleator Moor dad is calling for improvements to the town's all weather pitch as youngsters are being forced to travel up to 17 miles to play football and rugby.

Steven Butterworth, whose sons play for Cleator Moor Celtic FC and Wath Brow Hornets RLFC, wants to see GLL, which manages Cleator Moor Activity Centre, invest in the pitch.

Speaking at a Cleator Moor Town Council meeting, the father of four boys said young players are travelling to Maryport, Lillyhall and Whitehaven to use facilities.

Councillors have now vowed to ensure that the leisure services giant invests in Cleator Moor's all weather pitch, which at the moment, is predominately used to play hockey.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Butterworth said: "The hockey pitch - I'm reluctant to call it astroturf because it isn't - it's a sand based carpet specifically for hockey.

"It was laid in 1995. It's never been replaced and it's a bit of a disaster. It's not fit for purpose.

"It's ok for youngsters, maybe six or seven-year-olds, passing balls at a slow speed, but you cannot play a competitive game of football or rugby on that pitch. It's just not suitable. It's basically a carpet with sand on.

"It does get used from time to time by the younger ones but there's loads of people running around the community in their cars all over the place to get access to the sports facilities that we haven't got ourselves.

"I'm lucky I work at Sellafield and I've got access to a car. I don't like doing it but the benefits far outweigh not doing it. Having your children involved in sports and being around other adults and kids."

Councillor Margaret Messenger highlighted the environmental impact this would be having.

She said: "They're having to use cars to transport these children when we've got a facility that could be upgraded."

Mr Butterworth said: "I know that 30 per cent of householders in Cleator Moor don't have access to a car.

"I know there's young people who don't go because it's just not manageable. You imagine how that affects them.

"We talk about levels of obesity in this ward and having access to exercise and being involved in local clubs. It's important that we do this.

"In this community the first and second most popular sports are football and rugby.

"I've got nothing against hockey players. They should have their place where they play their sport but I know that they've only got minimal numbers, 30 people that use it twice a week. It just seems an absolute crying shame."

Councillor Hugh Branney said: "I'd like to support everything that Steven's said. We're very lucky in Cleator Moor to have two of the best sporting organisations, Celtic and the Brow. Having to travel out of the community is no longer acceptable. GLL are on board with this one and it's a matter of finding the funding now.

"It's been identified that Cleator Moor need that facility. The cost is quite enormous but they have said that they are going to try and meet it and we will do whatever we can to make sure that they do."

Councillor Richard Wood added: "It's complete nonsense for people to go as far as Maryport. We've got the space here, lay it down properly and get it used properly."