Wray Crescent - The Facts & Future
Tue 01-Nov-2005 
 

Our Man, James Gleadow, gives the local perspective & gets the official response - & most of the news is not bad !

PLEASE SEND JAMES ANY FEEDBACK OR RELATED ISSUES YOU MAY HAVE. Now read on...

James writes " I have played cricket at Wray Crescent this year for Pacific Cricket Club (perhaps the only adult team to play home games in Islington). This is the only cricket pitch (excluding HAC's in the south of the borough which is private and very expensive) in the borough. I note that the pitch is relatively cheap to hire, that there was a reasonable effort at regenerating it a couple of years ago and the fine efforts to run Wray Crescent youth cricket teams there. However, there are still many elements that make playing there grim

1) Pitch invasions and aggressive & abusive heckling by footballers and passers by

2) The artificial wicket has dangerous ridges in it and it is only a matter of time before a bowler damages his ankle on it. The ridges need to be removed.

3) The outfield is appalling. Several times this year players have been hit by cricket balls that have bounced awkardly off the surface. The grass is normally always too long and the surface very bumpy. We need to stop footballers playing there regularly.

4) There are no decent sightscreens

5) There is lack of basic cleanliness in the 'pavillion'

6) The parking attendants. Not a problem for me as I live locally but the opposition do not. You cannot get to games carrying kit on a bike, as one of our members had it suggested to him by council staff, when coming from the other side of London. Cricket is a three hour game at least and normally five hours. The two hour pay & display ticket option is not a viable option. One of our opponents got a ticket when unloading the team kit the other day for all three minutes. The Council says it wants to encourage sport and yet it operates a tyrannical parking enforcement system that prevents people from utilising its facilities. What are cricketers supposed to do about parking?

Islington Council comes out with many fine words but at present I'm seeing little action. We have just won back the Ashes and this would be a good time to encourage greater sporting (particularly cricket) activity and yet the only cricket pitch is not a decent facility. Many of my teammates wonder why we play there and I fear we may utilise Wray Crescent less because it is so poor in comparison with the other grounds we play at. If we stop playing there I do fear that will be end of adult cricket in the borough as I only ever hear of us and the WC youth teams in the local papers. What is the Area Committee going to do to improve Wray Crescent?

THE RESPONSE

Wray Crescent is the only council owned pitch in the borough and the Council have a duty to maintain the pitch to a good playable standard and we are sorry that you have experienced problems with the grounds. Wray Crescent is a public park and therefore, a public open space through which we cannot stop people walking. This is the first time that issues such as people heckling and pitch invasions have been brought to our attention. I would be most grateful if you could provide more details to enable us to ensure action is taken, either through the groundsperson, the park ranger service or the parks patrol.

The council is actively promoting sport and, as mentioned in your letter, with England winning the Ashes the popularity of Cricket is at an all time high and we must make sure that people are able to participate. The artificial wicket that is in place now will be replaced next season by the Council, in partnership with the ECB. This should alleviate the problems caused by the sinking concrete around the edges of the artificial base. We are looking at various artificial surfaces and are in the process of deciding along with the ECB on what the best surface is for Wray Crescent and its users. It is unrealistic to have a grass wicket because of the amount of cricket that is played on the pitch.

The outfield is a problem area and we understand your concerns. The grounds maintenance company that look after the pitch are aware of this issue but as I mentioned earlier Wray Crescent is a public open space. We can ask people to stop playing football on the pitch but it is very hard to enforce. The grass is kept slightly longer on the outfield because football is played on it. If the grass were very short it would be damaged to the point that there would be no grass. Furthermore, Wray Crescent has no regular watering system to stop the grass dying if it was cut short.

The pitch will be rolled regularly and this can be done as many times as needed. The telephone number for requesting this is below and any comments regarding the care of the pitch are welcome.

The lack of cleanliness in the pavilion is an issue that needs to be looked into and I am sorry that this has been a problem for you. If this happens again please contact Glendale on 020 7700 7187 so that the dates and times can be logged. The problem can then be discussed with the person responsible for the work. Sightscreens at Wray Crescent are another issue we have looked at. We are trying to rectify the situation by purchasing collapsible sightscreens. We hope to resolve this by the time the new season begins in April.

The pay and display bays near Wray Crescent have been converted to allow stays of 4 hours in response to your request. This will enable parking from 2:30pm to 6:30pm when parking restrictions end (there are no parking restrictions on Sunday). I hope this will help to improve the situation for visiting teams. If you have any further questions please contact the team leader responsible for this scheme, Mr Fred Fernandes on 020 7527 2532.

There is also a Friends of Wray Crescent group which is another way of logging problems. This group is chaired by the green space ranger for the area Mrs Celia Parlak who is available on 07796 338374.

The Pavilion at Wray Crescent is undergoing some big changes with 25,000 being invested into the site and development of cricket in the area. The access to sports programme runs 6 youth sides and are doing a fantastic job of finding local cricket players. There is a link between Pacific CC and the Wray Crescent Community CC which we, as a council, hope will prosper into developing cricket stars of the future. Sport in Islington has traditionally seen a lack of investment but as you can see sport in the borough is on the rise and the money invested in sports facilities all over the borough is testament to this.