£50,000 bid for Evenwood sports field improvements
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
VILLAGE councillors are to apply for £50,000 from Sport England for much-needed improvements at Evenwood’s cricket and football pitches.
This follows an unsuccessful attempt to get cash from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to repair drainage on the pitch at the Randolph Social Welfare Ground. It could cost as much as £35,000 to repair the cricket field which has, for many years, been subject to waterlogging. The sports ground is owned by Evenwood and Barony Parish Council.
Addressing last week’s parish meeting last week, Evenwood Cricket Club’s assistant secretary, Jeff Bannister, said they were at a loss about what to do as they could not apply for funding itself because they do not own the ground. Parish council chairwoman Cllr Barbara Nicholson said a letter had been sent to the ECB following discussions with the club in May but there had been no reply. Mr Bannister responded: “The only other way to get funding is to go through Sport England. That is the only other way forward.”
Asked whether the cricket club should put in the application, he added: “We have done what we can. The ECB won’t [give us money] if you can’t give us a lease – it has to come from the parish, and they [the ECB] might not even accept that.”
Cllr Nicholson said Sport England offers grants up to £50,000 to upgrade fields.
She said that other groups who use the area should also be part of the bid, “so we say to Sport England ‘cricketers want money to do this, the footballers would like this to do that’.”
After Mr Bannister agreed the idea was good, Cllr Nicholson said: “Right, we will set the ball rolling tomorrow. Keep in touch, we will get this sorted once and for all.”
Mr Bannister told the council that a mound alongside the cricket pitch would be removed imminently and replaced with cricket nets at a cost of £1,000 to the club.
This would help with the All Stars and Dynamos junior coaching schemes, he said. He added: “Everything is going in the right direction and we have a lot of youngsters up there.”
Mr Bannister explained that Evenwood Cricket Club is hoping to organise Chance to Shine events, which would involve ECB coaches visiting Evenwood School and Copeland School to “tell them what we are all about and they will promote the cricket club”.
“Hopefully then we will get more young people coming to our All Stars and Dynamos, and we will start an under-nines softball team,” Mr Bannister said. The club also runs two senior teams. The first XI finished fifth in the second division of the Durham and Northeast Cricket League this season and the team included West Indian international Joshua James.