Stumped and angry Finsbury Park residents want cricket fence hit for six
PUBLISHED: 13:40 13 October 2014 | UPDATED: 13:40 13 October 2014
A massive fence designed to stop cricket balls flying from Islington's last public cricket pitch has caused fury among residents.
The 10-metre-high fence is set to surround Wray Crescent Park in a bid to stop sixes causing havoc among neighbouring homes and vehicles after Islington Council was forced to shell out £680 to the owner of a car that was damaged when a ball was hit out of the ground in 2011.
But Pacific Cricket Club (PCC), which plays at the Finsbury Park ground, says that was the only incident in the last four years, while more than 70 people in the area have signed a petition to say the fence is ugly, expensive and unnecessary.
Jonathan Ward, from Friends of Wray Crescent, said: “Large sections of the fence will be installed across the open grass of the field, creating a hazard for cricketers and other park users.
“The fence will cost over £60,000 and will be put up at the beginning of the cricket season and taken down at the end, at additional cost to the taxpayer. If the netting is required then why doesn’t it protect the full boundary?
“Even people living next to park don’t want the fence The park is a little oasis in what can be quite a gritty part of Islington – this fence is going to ruin our village green.
“We have collected signatures from passers-by who were near unanimous in their objection to this needless, ugly and expensive project. Public opinion is clear but it seems like Islington Council is not listening.”
Peter Hollman, secretary of the PCC, said: “Our sympathies are with the residents, although we understand the need if we have to have a fence to carry on playing cricket.
“But from our perspective it’s using a mallet to crack a nut. The kind of cricket we play really doesn’t cause many problems - there has only been one incident in the last four years and I don’t think that involved PCC.
“And why can’t the council rely on users to have insurance, as they have done since the 1990s?
“From our point of view it will reduce the boundary size, and Wray Crescent is already quite a small pitch.
“We want to encourage cricket. Not only is Wray Crescent the last public pitch in Islington but it’s very rare because games can be played 365 days a year.”
A spokesman for the council said extensive research had been done during matches which was reflected in the height and positioning of the fence.
Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “Wray Crescent is Islington’s only cricket ground, and cricketers have used it for many years.
“We want to make sure all forms of cricket can continue on the field.
“Our legal advice is clear – without nets at Wray Crescent, adult cricket will have to stop, or we risk huge compensation claims.
“Where possible – where balls are least likely to leave the field – we are not installing fencing.”