The cost to local taxpayers of the unexplained incident in which weedkiller was applied to the town’s Baileys Court cricket square has risen to £15k after Councillors agreed to reduce the rent charged to Bradley Stoke Cricket Club for next season.
Damage to the cricket square first came to light in March, when staff noticed the grass was starting to die off, and experts brought in by the Council later confirmed that a “readily available” weedkiller was to blame.
A meeting of the Council’s Finance Committee in April concluded that “on balance of probability, the original damage to the cricket wickets was contractor error”.
Classic Landscapes, the company previously responsible for looking after the cricket square, had its contract for that work terminated, although it continues to do other work for the Council.
The Council spent £5,350 on emergency remedial works and instigated a new maintenance regime that necessitated the purchase of a heavy sit-on roller and a specialised mower at a one-off cost of £8,270.
The new maintenance programme includes a budget of £2,600 to be paid to the cricket club for assisting the new contractor, Avon Sports Ground Maintenance. Payments totalling £1,456 have so far been made to the club, for 182 hours of labour.
With all of this season’s games having to be played on an artificial wicket, the cricket club recently wrote to the Council asking for a reduction in its lease charge and this month’s meeting of the Finance Committee agreed to reduce the rent by one-third for the 2012/2013 season – representing a loss of income of £1,520 for the Council.
The Council has billed Classic Landscapes for the emergency remedial work carried out earlier this year but payment has so far not been forthcoming. It is considering making a claim on its ‘contract dispute’ cover but has yet to hear back from its insurers.
Photo 1: Match in progress on the artificial wicket at Baileys Court.
Photo 2: Signs warn of hazardous chemicals on the cricket square (archive image).
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