Facelift for disused Colne bowling green?

Alkincoates Park.
Alkincoates Park.

A disused Colne bowling green that is a scene of anti-social behaviour could soon be undergoing a facelift.

But how the site at Alkincoats Park could be transformed has divided opinion. The issue was last night set to be discussed at the Pendle Council Colne and District Committee meeting - with councillors being recommended to approve the idea of turning the area into a community garden.

This comes after a report submitted by Pendle Council’s deputy chief executive Philip Mousdale revealed the spot has been sparking concern from residents.

His report states that large groups have been gathering on the green and making a nuisance of themselves, by playing ball games in an unsafe manner, shouting and swearing often until late at night, giving verbal abuse and even “mooning”.

Police and parks officers have expressed their belief that turning the area into a community garden would be of particular benefit to residents.

But Alkincoats Road resident Daryl Wright feels the bowling green should be saved and taken over by the Philip Wright Crown Green Bowling Academy.

The academy was set up in memory of Daryl’s son Philip, who died in a car crash in 2009, along with his friends Jessica Foxley and Tom Petty.

In his report Mr Mousdale states: “Despite attempts to keep the bowling green as such it has not been used for bowling for several years.

“The area is associated with anti-social behaviour that has escalated and is now impacting badly on the lives of people living in the immediate area, particularly the residents of Barcroft Street.

“The police and parks officers feel that the area should be turned into something different to help alleviate the problems and also to make better use of that section of the park.”

And Sgt Shaun Pearson, who revealed anti-social behaviour has been a problem in the old bowling green area of the park for at least six months, said: “The area hasn’t been used as a bowling green for a long time and there have been reports of anti-social behaviour, including loud nose and people turning up with vehicles and erecting goals to play football.

“A community garden would benefit local residents and it would bring another element to the park, which would be nice in the neighbourhood.”

But Mr Wright (53), who was due to speak out against the community garden plans last night, said: “At the last meeting it was all being pushed towards a community garden without any regards to anything else anybody would like to do.

“The academy meets on a Saturday morning, from 10 to 12, during the bowling season (the end of March to the end of September) at Colne Cricket Club. And on a Sunday and Tuesday there are usually 20-plus retired people playing bowls at the club. We don’t want to take anything away from the cricket club, but we want to encourage more people to play at Alkincoats as well.

“They have already taken over the other bowling green at Alkincoats... and already people have tried to set the benches on fire, and have drawn all over them. For them to want to push through another garden area seems a bit silly.

“They say initial costs of letting the academy use it would be £2,000, which is incorrect. It would be around £1,300, and if they let us use their machinery it would be just over £600. We will be pushing this, and we are not going to give up.”

Mr Wright also claimed that the wrong machinery has been being used to cut the grass on the greens, meaning it has never been short enough for residents to take advantage of it as a bowling area.

Other suggestions for the bowling green, which has not been regularly played on since 2008, included using it for outdoor gym equipment, or turning it into a wildflower meadow.

Chair of the Friends of Alkincoats Park John Birchenough added: “As a group we feel very sympathetic with problems that have been caused in that area. Anything that can help alleviate the anti-social behaviour problems and that will contribute to the benefit of the park is a double advantage.

“Last year we, with the parks department, decided that because of the lack of take-up by bowls players that two greens would not be necessary. There is ongoing work at the moment to turn one into a picnic area.

“Since the anti-social behaviour we have had to look at and consider the best way of dealing with the problems in line with budget constraints.”