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Newcastle City Council snubs offer of free artificial cricket pitches

June 21, 2017 10:03 PM
Sticky wicket for Newcastle council as offer of 6 free artificial pitches is snubbed
Opposition Liberal Democrats councillors in Newcastle have called on the city council to explain why it has declined to take up an offer of six new artificial cricket strips for the city's parks and recreation areas.
The Lib Dems have obtained information which shows the council's leisure services team declined to take up an offer of funding from the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) for up to six artificial wickets to be provided in local parks and open spaces, together with maintenance support for 5 years and cricket equipment, to a value of £72,000.
Correspondence between the council and cricket officials earlier this month reveals that council officers responded that "we are not in a position currently to do this" and suggested that this offer "has not had any priority on [its] work programme" due to the council concentrating on transferring parks and recreation areas to a new trust. The council also appears to have failed to make local schools, clubs and parks groups aware of the offer.
Liberal Democrats Opposition spokesman Cllr Greg Stone said:
"At a time when the council is closing leisure facilities due to lack of funding, it is disappointing to learn that the council has snubbed the ECB's offer to provide up to six artificial pitches in Newcastle. Cricket is a popular sport for many people in the city, including many in the city's BME population, but Newcastle is not well-served by local playing facilities and has a shortage of available pitches. Newcastle is unlikely to produce the next great Test batsman or bowler if local kids have nowhere to play.
"I am surprised that the council has turned down a generous ECB offer of investment in new wickets for the city. This would have been a great opportunity to allow more people to play and particularly to enable more young people to play or practice informally. There are plenty of suitable sites that could be considered, including Paddy Freemans playing fields, Blakelaw Park, and land at Nuns Moor Road which is frequently occupied in the summer months by local Asian children and families playing informal cricket. Local school playing fields could also be possibilities.
The council has spilled an easy chance to boost cricket participation in Newcastle because officers are too busy trying to transfer potential sites out of the council's ownership."