The future of Barrowford Cricket Club is in jeopardy after it was left facing a £10,000 bill to have its electricity supply reconnected.
The power at the club’s Bull Holme pavilion was disconnected in January during work by Pendle Council to redevelop a changing pavilion on adjacent playing fields used by local football teams.
But the cricket club has now received a letter from Pendle Council, from whom it leases the land, saying power cannot be restored until the cable supplying the cricket pavilion is upgraded to comply with regulations.
It says the cricket club is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the electricity supply under the terms of its lease and will have to pay for work to be done, but groundsman David Flounders says the cash-strapped club can’t afford to foot the bill and is taking legal advice.
He said: “The cricket club is an important community facility used regularly by 200 cricketers. It’s used not only by our Barrowford teams, but also by other local teams and games involving other local cricket leagues. The youngsters from the football club have also been using the pavilion while their facilities are being rebuilt, so it’s affecting them as well.
“With no power we can’t light or heat the changing rooms and kitchen area. We’re currently hiring a generator which is very expensive and we won’t be able to continue with that for much longer. This is affecting our preparations for the coming season and the financial ramifications put the very future of the club at risk.”
The club has instructed Lancashire-based commercial law firm Garricks Solicitors to act on its behalf in the dispute. According to the firm’s litigation specialist Tom Smith, it is against the terms of the lease for Pendle Council to disconnect the power supply.
Mr Smith said: “The disconnection of the power supply to the pavilion constitutes a breach of the lease and we have written to Pendle Council informing them we intend to take legal action if the issue is not resolved in a satisfactory way.”
Liberata, the council’s outsourced services provider, has estimated the cost of installing and connecting the new cable at £10,000. According to Mr Flounders, the council is exploring the possibility of providing a zero-interest loan to the cricket club to pay for the work, but he says the club could not afford the repayments.
He added: “We had a surplus of £44 last year. We simply do not have the funds, either to pay the sum up front, or in instalments. It would take us a lifetime to pay it back.”
The club, which was founded in 1907 and moved to Bull Holme in the 1960s, is currently hiring a generator, at its own expense to keep the power to its pavilion on.
Mr Philip Mousdale, Pendle Council’s director (services) and deputy chief executive, said: “We’re currently building a new football pavilion at Bull Holme. During demolition of the old building there, the electricity supply cable installed by the cricket club to serve their cricket pavilion had to be temporarily disconnected. This supply cable does not meet current electrical regulation standards and therefore can’t be reconnected – it would be unsafe to do so.
“Since this discovery, we have been trying to help the club. We have met with them and provided them with quotes for work to make the cable safe, and advised them to also get their own quote. We have also offered advice and looked into streams of funding to help them finance the work to make their electrical cable safe.”