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Islington Council to get rid of full-size Barnard Park pitch

PUBLISHED: 16:44 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:06 10 May 2017

Islington Council is getting rid of Barnard Park's full-size pitch. Picture: David Holt/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Islington Council is getting rid of Barnard Park's full-size pitch. Picture: David Holt/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

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Islington has lost its last free full-sized sports pitch.

The council last night approved its own planning application to refurbish the east side of Barnard Park in Barnsbury. The pitch will be dug up and replaced by a new seven-a-side pitch – which will be a third of the size – and “grass areas” as part of a scheme to make the park easier on the eye.

Though the pitch is in poor condition, campaigners such as David Scrafton, owner of Highbury Football School – which trains on the pitch every Saturday and Sunday morning – said it should have been renovated rather than removed.

He said this afternoon: “We have 100 kids training with us. We can’t do that on a seven-a-side pitch. Yet again, the little guy has lost out.”

Unlike the current pitch, the new seven-a-side facility will also be available for private hire. And Sport England also objected to the council’s plans, saying sport provision in Islington will suffer.

However, though the scheme received 42 letters of objection from the public, it also had the support of 126 people.

And at a town hall meeting last night, the planning sub committee followed a recommendation to approve the application, after council officers concluded it would be an “upgrade” on the current facilities.

5 comments

  • This process has been a farce from start to finish. It started with a 'choice' of 3 pretty much identical 'options' and ended on Monday with an unusual democratic process where only those in favour were able to vote. Islington council has already spent thousands of pounds of our cash on their plans and a year thinking up a cunning plan to pretend it's not a sports pitch at all. (If they don't maintain it, it won't be a pitch - clever eh?). Outside funds are available to improve the sports pitch but have been rejected. Personally, I don't want my council tax to pay for the new lawn which will do little except improve the aspect for the neighbouring ’big houses' but these councillors don't care about the views of us ordinary folk or the futures of our children or grandchildren. As I say, farcical and those of us against think carefully about how we vote in future.

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    Hilary Knights

    Thursday, May 11, 2017

  • In commenting last night I somehow stole J Schlesinger's comment and mine is now attributed to him! I was thinking subsequently about my feelings after the Cllrs gave their decision and it was a deep sense of unfairness, how could the large community, many from disadvantaged areas who both use and need the pitch lose out to a bunch of rich middle class people who own very expensive houses adjoining the park ably assisted by the might of Islington Council, to which all of us pay taxes - not just the rich. The decision flew in the face of decency where the rich win, but maybe it was always thus. M

    Report this comment

    Rowe17

    Thursday, May 11, 2017

  • It is pretty disgraceful that a bunch of Labour Councillors who seemed "predetermined" to vote in favour of the Council's own plan to substantially diminish the Barnard Park pitch so brazenly ignored the very eloquent pleas of the representative of Highbury Wolves who use the pitch to train a load of kids twice a week and the speakers from CYP who stressed the needs of this facility for their members and locals. Instead the Council preferred the views of the Friends of Barnard Park, which is predominantly a self-interested lobbying group which would like the pitch grassed over with pretty flowers when there is already plenty of green space. The huge reduction of the pitch will ensure that sport and exercise will in fact be curtailed but the Council dared claim it would enhance sport! It was shameful and a sad day for the local community and users of a pitch which has served South Islington well for over 50 years but which the Council had sadly neglected of late and successfully last night argued - without much hard evidence of the benefits - that it should be reduced to a goldfish bowl.

    Report this comment

    Rowe17

    Thursday, May 11, 2017

  • To claim that replacing a full size pitch with one a third the size is an upgrade is a lie Trump would be proud of. The irony is that the only reason the existing pitch is run down is because it is Islington council that runs it. Adding injury to insult, most of the real upgrade cost for putting in a new surface would have been provided without obligation by UK sports bodies. So the council will be using our money to pay for 'planning gain' by the local residents at the expense of the whole community. It is a disgrace that Labour councillors prefer to let our children get fat so that rich homeowners can make a few extra thousand pounds. This stinks. Rotten boroughs indeed.

    Report this comment

    John Schlesinger

    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

  • Having been at the planning meeting last night, it was obvious that the outcome was a foregone conclusion. The only two councillors against were refused participation and Emily's yes men said yes. There was no consultation and confirmed by Andrew Bedford afterwards. Local groups were excluded. This is not democracy and it's not in the public's needs. We need full, inclusive, free sports to encourage integration and redress anti-social problems, health issues and mental health issues. Local resident

    Report this comment

    Mark Smith

    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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