In 2006 we committed funds and effort to improving both the pitch and the shed - see the Plan below.
During the winter we employed a professional grounds maintenance company to carry out remedial work, including scarifying, grading, weed and worm eradication. Greater effort has been put into pre-season seeding and preparation, and our groundsmen have reported a much better surface and root growth. The season started with a near perfect wicket, helped trmendously by the dry April, and despite poor weather in May, the wicket continues to play true.
The committee also investigated replacing the old shed with a brand new structure to house the mowers, roller etc, but eventually rescinded the idea on the grounds of cost and practicality, not least that the old shed belongs to the Council and is not actually part of the Club's lease. Having discussed with council officials, however, we got agreement to patch up the existing shed, which was done most successfully in April. New roofing and doors made the shed secure and watertight, and with a coat of Cuprinol, it will soon look as good as new. This should last us for a few more seasons now.
And finally, during a windy April weekend, both sightscreens were mended and painted, with paint kindly donated to the club by Eastwoods, decorating
suppliers, of Rayners Lane, Harrow.
Parkfield & Headstone Cricket Club
Essential improvements plan
In 2006, visiting captains rated the Saddlers Mead wicket the worst in Division 6 at 3.29 out of 10, where the average was 6.66 and best 8.14, and the League has written to ask what the Club is doing about this. To bring the playing facilities up to minimum league standards, PHCC must take steps to improve the wicket, and also linked with this, renew the shed used for storage of grounds maintenance equipment.
As requested, a sub-committee examined the options available and presents the following business plan and recommendations to the committee.
Improve the wicket
1) Options available are:
a) do nothing
b) improve basic in-season maintenance
c) minimum end of season work plus improved in-season maintenance
d) major maintenance work immediately post-season, continuous close season maintenance plus improved in-season maintenance.
2) Each option in detail
a) Do nothing – the predicted outcome if we take no particular action to improve the wicket, is demotion or expulsion from the League. This option would involve no extra expense, but would be completely contrary to the aims and objectives of the Club.
This option is discounted.
b) Improve basic in-season maintenance - whilst our current amateur groundsman, Gareth Stalley, usually provides an adequate pre-match preparation, including mowing, rolling and marking, he is not fully conversant with maintenance and repair techniques, nor does he have enough time to devote to these aspects. We considered several ways of overcoming this issue. Attendance on a sponsored Groundsman’s training course might improve his knowledge and techniques, but would not increase the time he can devote to the tasks. If Gareth wishes to have such training, however, we feel that the club should pay his expenses in return for a commitment to consistently better pre-match preparation. We hope that Gareth will continue his work for the club and possibly attend a training event.
Immediately, we feel that the club must invest in obtaining extra resource to assist with mid-week repair and maintenance – Dave Sheppard has already made contact with the Harrow Town groundsmen, who have provisionally agreed to provide xxx hours work at Saddlers Mead for xxx cost.
We recommend that the arrangement with Harrow Town groundsmen should be confirmed and put in writing immediately. If possible, there should also be knowledge transfer from them to Gareth.
c) Minimum end of season work plus improved in-season maintenance – the committee has already agreed to have end-of-season work carried out in 2006; this involves scarifying and weed eradication, aeration and seeding. The cost of this work is almost £2000. It is expected that this will have short and medium term benefits, providing a better playing surface for 2007, as long as in-season maintenance improves as above. We will be able truthfully to raise the perception of the wicket when meeting opponents, and hopefully it will look and play much better, but the test will be the scores given by opposing captains in their reports to the League. We must aim to increase the overall grading by at least 4 full points during 2006, 2007 and 2008.
We recommend that end-of-season maintenance must be undertaken again in October 2007 and all subsequent years, unless later options are taken up.
To outsource the work completely will cost around £2000 per season. The sub-committee felt that the current level of fund raising would have to be increased slightly to accommodate this.
We recommend that the current level of fund raising be increased to finance continued end-of-season maintenance.
An alternative is to use equipment on hire from Hertfordshire or Middlesex leagues or associations, and provide our own labour and materials. This will be cheaper, but may fall foul of Health and Safety regulations, lack of knowledge, lack of manpower, and general apathy. With Gareth and the Harrow Town groundsmen on board, we may have a better chance of doing it ourselves. The aim must be to keep improving the visiting captains rating, but there is some debate about how much improvement is possible on the wicket as it stands.
d) Major maintenance work immediately post-season, continuous end-of-season maintenance plus improved in-season maintenance – the major work was costed before the end of 2006 season, at around £7500, to relay the whole table, eliminating hills and valleys, and improving the soil and grass quality. The committee was reluctant to undertake such major work until the Club has longer-term security of tenure from the Council, and better facilities for storage of maintenance equipment, which might need to be replaced or expanded. What may not have been appreciated by members was that if this major work is undertaken, to protect the investment the Club must put in place a more rigorous policy of continuous in-season and end-of-season maintenance than we currently have. In other words, not only £7500 at end of one season, but probably £2000 at the end of all subsequent seasons.
So there are several obstacles to overcome before this can be recommended –
i) negotiations with the Council to increase the length of time the Club has exclusive use of the wicket
ii) negotiations with the Council and PSC over the existing shed, or a replacement (see below)
iii) improved fund raising to be able to repay a loan and continue maintenance at a higher cost that at present.
Whilst agreeing that this major work is desirable, the sub-committee could not recommend the initial outlay at this time.
We recommend that the business case for major work be reviewed during the 2008 season.
Renew the shed
The shed is normally used to store the several pieces of equipment necessary to enable the groundsman to do his job, but the majority of these have been moved to another store offsite for the winter because currently the shed is unsafe, leaking and insecure. We understand that the shed is partially constructed from a type of asbestos. The shed is not part of PSC’s ground lease, and officially is the responsibility of the Council. However, PSC has used it exclusively for many years.
3) options available are :
a) do nothing
b) get the Council to replace the shed
c) repair the existing structure
d) demolish and replace the shed with a steel shed
e) demolish and replace the shed with a pre-cast garage
f) demolish and replace the shed with a brick built garage
g) relocate the storage facility to another site behind the clubhouse
4) Each option in detail:
a) Do nothing – if nothing is done, and the existing shed remains the only storage site for the grounds maintenance equipment, the machinery will quickly deteriorate beyond economic repair, be open to vandalism or theft. thus frustrating the intentions of the pitch renovation above. Unless alternative storage is provided (see later option) this option is contrary to the aims and objectives of the Club.
This option is discounted.
b) get the Council to replace the shed – in order for this to happen, we must make immediate contact with the appropriate officer, persuade them that the shed is their responsibility, and get an assurance that action will be taken forthwith, definitely well before the new season starts. In view of the lease situation, and the possible presence of asbestos, we recommend that dialogue is opened immediately with the Council.
c) repair the existing structure – we consider the existing structure is beyond economical repair, and it could not be made secure. We suspect that asbestos sheeting was used in the construction, and that this must be handled only by experts licensed to take it away. We recommend that neither the Council nor the Club should try to repair the existing shed. However, if this is the only option approved by the Council, we guess that the shed could be made watertight and more secure for about £500.
d) demolish and replace the shed with a steel shed – if the presence of a dangerous type of asbestos is confirmed, either the Council or the Club should get the existing shed taken away by a company which is properly licensed to deal with it. Once that is done, a steel shed of similar size or even larger could be purchased and put up by volunteers on the same base for about £1000. Steel would be more robust that the existing wood, and such sheds are guaranteed rustproof for 10 years. The new shed would of course be an advantage to the PSC as well as PHCC, for football equipment, barbeque etc, so a contribution might be sought.
We recommend that the Club confirm with the Council that planning permission would not be necessary for a steel shed, and that if allowed, the Club should invest up to £1000 to follow this option.
e) demolish and replace the shed with a pre-cast garage – same considerations as d) above, but the price rises to about £1500. These require more skilled installation, and may require planning permission.
f) demolish and replace the shed with a brick built garage – same considerations as d) and e) above, with greater possibility of planning permission and need for specialist tradesman. Cost would likely be higher.
g) relocate the storage facility to another site behind the clubhouse – it has been suggested that a completely new storage facility could be constructed along the back of the clubhouse on land already leased by PSC. This could be used to store both football and cricket equipment, and would have the benefit of being built to the Club’s security specification. Such a building is not imminent however, so we recommend that the Club should approach PSC to learn their long term plans for additional building work behind the clubhouse.
5) In summary, our major recommendations are
a) to commit to remedial grounds maintenance again in 2007, and
b) if tenure is confirmed, consider major work in 2008.
c) We further recommend that we open dialogue with the Council about removal of the old shed, and offer to put up a steel shed in its place.
d) Over the 3 year period, these options would probably cost about £11500 - £12000. We therefore recommend that fund raising should be increased immediately to help to finance these works.
Planning sub committee
3 November 2006