Sign the petition for a better plan for our park

Sign the petition for a better plan for our park

2021-06-24 Off By Editor

We are announcing two petitions in which we ask Islington to walk back on its current plans, engage in a credible survey of local need and deliver a more imaginative project that helps meet the complex needs of Tollington ward.

The first petition is at Please sign this now.

We also have a petition on the council website, but we are getting feedback that it is hard to sign. Please try to sign all the same.

Meet the Tollington Ward candidates

We want a balance of use the plan does not provide

We continue to believe that with the money (plus undisclosed running costs) Islington Council intends putting into its project to turn Wray Crescent into a semi-permanent cricket ground the council is displaying a shameful lack of imagination and a failure to reach out to the local community to determine what it needs.

The council appears to have failed to engage in a credible community need survey to ensure this huge investment of cash will make a positive difference is hugely disappointing.

The problems in densely populated Tollington, which lacks green space, are not mitigated one iota by sacrificing most of its green space at peak periods to one occupation.

Our petition asks only that:

We the undersigned petition the council to stop its plans to effectively turn Wray Crescent into a formal cricket pitch and to instead engage in a credible consultation with the Tollington community to develop the park in a way that reflects local need and ensures equal distribution of, and accessibility to, public funds and green space.”

We are not anti-cricket.

We are not against cricket for kids.

What we think Tollington needs is a credible consultation that delivers benefit to the whole community and respects the value of green spaces to those who live here. We do not believe the current proposal does that.

Why it matters

Islington, population 239,142, is one of the most densely populated UK boroughs with the lowest percentage of open space of any borough. Friends of the Earth claims Islington is among the most green space deprived boroughs in the entire UK.

The decision to prioritise cricket in Wray Crescent open space does not meet local need, reflects a failure to engage with the local community to identify existing needs, and delivers a service (a cricket pitch) that is locally available (there are many cricket pirches in walking distance) at the cost of green space the borough’s residents can’t afford to lose.

We urge the council to engage with the local community to develop a new and more ambitious plan that meets wider local need.

What follows are some of the notes we took at the last of the council’s two very short consultation meetings. While both Tollington’s current councillors attended the meeting neither chose to engage with those present citing purdah rules, which was also a disappointment.

Notes from the meeting

On funding

Ballpark figures:

  • £100,000 from Sport England
  • £150,000 from London Marathon trust.
  • £40,000 from the carbon offset fund (we think this is an Islington council fund).
  • £210,000 from Islington Council’s Section 106 and Capital funding.
  • Cricket pitch spike pro surfacing pitch funded by ECB

There is no specific funding being made available at this time to support other groups in the park, other than cricket as part of this project.

The overall cost to Islington here seems to be £250,000.

On the building

  • Office space for Middlesex cricket is in the plan.
  • Middlesex will not pay for this space and will hold a key for the building, but it was not clear if that group would hold overall control over use of the building.
  • In exchange Middlesex will run cricket schemes for children.
  • There will be three changing rooms including one for visiting officials.
  • The plans do not provide any storage space in the building for sports equipment other than cricket.
  • We are still not clear who will hold the keys to this space, or to the management plan.
  • We had no insight into staffing, ownership or control. We have no idea who will hold the keys to facilitate access to other groups.
  • The council also said the community would pay no fee to host a free and open public event, but private functions would cost.

On construction

  • The council want to get the new building on site in spring 2022.
  • Islington did say it would provide the ecological/environmental survey on the structure but this has not been received.
  • Sport England is apparently a statutory consultee in the planning process. They will comment on the planning application once it’s submitted.

On management

  • We were told cricket could take place every weekday evening and all day at the weekend during the season from April to October.
  • The council had no management or revenue plan to propose and provided no credible model which sees representatives/stakeholders from other park groups involved in management of the property, limiting accountability and transparency.
  • We were also told that “probably” the “community space” would be available during a match, but this was by no means guaranteed, which suggests a very limited definition of multiple use.
  • The council seems quite unwilling to compromise use for cricket.
  • Among other compromises it was suggested that perhaps cricket be limited to three days per week during the meeting, but there seemed little serious appetite to engage with this.

On engagement and accountability

  • We were saddened the head of parks could not tell us how much public green space across North and South Islington he manages.
  • The head of parks did say Islington has the second smallest amount of green space, anywhere in the country. We think he said the city has less, but we were puzzled at that which sounds wrong as the city of London owns Epping forest, Highgate woods and lots more land. We may have misunderstood him.

Please sign our petition.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash