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Pitching in to stop Brighton and Hove play area changes
Cricketers claim a plan from a rival club to take over the upkeep of pitches is “privatising” public space.
St Peter’s Cricket Club has been based in Preston Park, Brighton, for 130 years.
As Brighton and Hove City Council looks to make tens of millions of pounds of savings in the coming years, bosses at the club have put forward a plan to take control of the pitches for the majority of the summer.
Representatives at St Peter’s claim it will allow the club, which currently has 70 adult and 150 junior members, to grow while improving the facilities for the wider community.
But the Nagoya Killer Whales, a casual team that use the public facilities, claim it will restrict the times it and other teams can play.
Duncan Henderson, the secretary of Nagoya Killer Whales, which used the pitch six times last year, said: “This is a partial privatisation of public recreational land and absolutely unacceptable, possibly illegal.
“Either it is municipally owned and run for public use or it isn't. You cannot be half pregnant.”
David Corney, the chairman of St Peter’s, said he believed the changes were for the “greater good”.
He said: “What it will allow us to do is the raise the capital through lottery funding to bring the club house into a fit state of repair, bring the wickets up to a decent standard for league cricket and install an artificial surface for the kids to play on.
“We can do none of this without a long term lease of the wickets and clubhouse.
“From Nagoya Killóer Whales’ perspective nothing will change except we will charge them, not the council.”
Mr Corney said the plan, which he hoped would be complete in three to four months, was for it to have control of the square from April to September on three evenings a week, plus the weekends.
The council would still maintain the outfield.
A council spokeswoman said: “Officers and councillors are looking into the ideas being put forward to assess the possibilities and potential benefits of a new arrangement.
“No decision has been made at this time.”
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