Taxpayer to pick up bill for cricket club repairs?

A WALL of silence surrounds a council after a controversial report revealed a string of building problems at a new £80,000 cricket pavilion – and it could cost taxpayers thousands to put right.

The Rasen Mail understands land owners Caistor Town Council will have to foot the bill to sort out problems including paths that are already cracked and too narrow for disabled use, a changing room window compromising players’ privacy, hazardous, uneven flooring in the showers, doors that are not wide enough and issues with handrails the disabled toilet.

Town clerk Helen Pitman – the driving force behind the £450 independent survey – has refused to answer any questions and has gagged all councillors, leading to speculation the town authority is in turmoil.

Minutes from a town council meeting in September suggest the council signed off the work so Caistor Cricket Club – based at the town’s Sports Ground - could get its hands on the English Cricket Board grant to pay for the extension completed earlier this year.

It states: “Before grant money can be given, town council as owners need to also sign it off. As any problems which may arise after this will come to the town council.”

To make matters worse builder Allison and Cadle – whose owner Ernie Allison is said to be head groundsman at the cricket club - has since gone into administration. Mr Allison refused to speak to the Rasen Mail.

The ECB has confirmed it is now going to pay for its own surveyor to check over the work to make sure it meets the body’s strict standards. Lincolnshire Cricket’s CEO Kevin Spence said: “Something has gone dramatically wrong.”

A Caistor resident speaking at a town council meeting said: “We’ve got doors that aren’t legal, we’ve got windows that aren’t legal – you can see people coming out of the showers. It’s ridiculous.”

Caistor Fisheries owner Mike Rybakowski, who pulled his cricket club sponsorship earlier this year, said: “It’s disgraceful, it really is.”

The Rasen Mail contacted Caistor Cricket Club chairman Dave Gowshall, Sports Ground chairman Rick Sandham and Humber Facilities Management’s Mike Hill who did the survey for the council – all refused to comment.

But cricket club member Reg Percival said: “From what I gather the cricket club believes there are a number of discrepancies within the report and we will be responding formally.

“We are happy with the work that has been done. We don’t have any complaints, it complies with the specifications. Things changed as the work progressed.”

The survey highlighted concerns about the cost of the project being too high for “such a simple construction project”, but it is believed its estimates do not include VAT.

The report states: “There are several anomalies which contradict the specification and do not appear to be covered off under any variation orders or change control procedure.”

It goes on to say: “Generally the building works have been delivered to a reasonable standard with the exception of detailing and adherence to specification which leads to the issue of adequate contractor management/control.”

West Lindsey District Council’s technical and contract services manager Neil Cucksey said: “The building control service cannot enforce the English Cricket Board specification requirements, where they are over and above minimum building regulation standards.

“However, this is a live application with the local authority and we will be working with the applicant to resolve some of the outstanding issues under the building regulations.”