Playing fields concern

A youngster on the patch of land in Aspull
A youngster on the patch of land in Aspull

THE weather and council cuts are causing problems for users of Wigan’s playing fields.

Unprecedented rain has caused grass to grow faster than ever this summer - sadly coinciding with reduced maintenance.

Residents complained to the Evening Post that a lack of mowing had left land at the rear of St Anne’s Primary School in Standish Lower Ground as a virtual “hay meadow” which made any kind of ball games impossible.

But less than 24 hours after we made inquiries, a council team had been around to cut the grass.

However, they insisted that the operation was unconnected with our taking them to task on behalf of the community ... and they had been waiting for a window of better weather so that mower wheels didn’t damage the turf.

And in Aspull, concern has been raised about the length of the grass on the football field off Haigh Road.

When John Burns and his grandson arrived at the field he was dismayed to see how unkempt it had become.

He said: “I know the council have to make cuts but where are the children going to play in the school holidays?”

A mum from adjoining Wedgewood Drive, in Standish Lower Ground, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It had become a total disgrace and had not been cut for several months.

“The grass was at least three feet tall and full of brambles and weeds.

“What makes it even worse is that it has been left overgrown over the school summer holidays.

“This playing field, for as long as I can remember, has been used by children to play football and run around on.

“But the field had not only become unusable to play on, but it was an eyesore while gardens that back on to it were full of more bugs, such as crickets, than I’d ever seen.

“We were not asking for an adventure park to be built or for landscape gardens to be made, we just wanted the grass keeping short and tidy so, not only to look better, but so that children in the area would have somewhere to play as there was nowhere else like that in the area.”

A spokesperson for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, responsible for the St Anne’s field, said: “This year’s unprecedented wet weather has accelerated the rate of growth and made ground conditions unsuitable to cut the grass.

“This facility is not subject to any reductions in council spending and now that the area has dried out we have been on site to cut the grass.”

And Steve Normington, Director of the Economy, said of the Aspull site: “The area is common land and has not been managed as a recreation ground and more as an amenity area.

“We have had to take some tough financial decisions and as the land slopes, it isn’t the most suitable in the area for games.

“All the remaining areas of common land in Aspull are still cut 10 times a year and there is plenty of space for football.”