By Charles Randall
24 April 2015
Cricket clubs are being urged to invite their local MP for a visit this summer to highlight the sport's vital role in the community. Elections, action and Ashes – this could be a special year for recreational cricket.
MP invitations might tie in nicely with the open day scheme backed for a third year by the ECB and Waitrose. In 2014 more than 900 clubs opened their pavilions to the local community for a day of cricket taster sessions, fun activities or even just for a drink at the bar. This year Ashes cricket on television would be an extra attraction.
The 'invite your MP' idea is led by the League Cricket Conference and the National Cricket Conference, supported by the Club Cricket Conference and the Midlands Club Cricket Conference. Invitations could be extended to local councillors and media so that politicians can see at first hand the benefits of a local cricket club.
Clubs face a variety of pressures, from financial constraints to burgeoning paperwork. So it is the belief of the cricket conferences that the value of a cricket club to a community should be widely recognised, especially as there is evidence that children taking part in sport and recreational activities have less involvement in anti-social behaviour.
To assist clubs with their MP contact, a draft letter and feedback form has been created by the League Cricket Conference. This will allow them and the National Cricket Conference to compile an evaluation and decide next steps.
Clubs have already been urged to get on their local authority's Lists of Assets of Community Value this year. The list incorporates sporting, recreational, cultural assets as well as resources relating to the social well-being and social interest of a community. Under Section 87 of the Localism Act of 2011 a local authority is requested to keep such a list.
There are a number of criteria required for a cricket club to join a list, but this seems eminently achievable. For example, in a letter to the National Cricket Conference last November, Stephen Williams MP, Minister for Communities, noted that 16 fields, pavilions and clubs had now been listed.
This listed status should almost guarantee a club an opportunity to bid for land if the owner seeks a sale and could have an impact on future planning applications made by the owner. In summary, according to the listing requirements, a club must have a constitution and at least 21 members with a local community connection. Financial surpluses must be ploughed back for community well-being.
The National Cricket Conference is again asking for clubs to share their experiences of the application process, and in the long term the conference would like to see the legislation changed so as to extend the rights given to a listed club such as 'right to buy'.
The ECB's Waitrose open day scheme was very successful last year, attracting many new members. Any weekend during the season can be earmarked, and participating clubs will benefit from a £100 food and drink offer from Waitrose to help deliver and fund-raise for events. They can enter a prize draw to win an appearance from three England players later in the summer.
Local authority listing:
Draft letter to MP and feedback form:
Neil Edwards, secretary of the League Cricket Conference, email@example.com
Waitrose scheme registration: