Generous to the last

20 Mar

Oddly shaped balls

Picture via @NewhamLabourWTF

A few months ago a set of new signs appeared in West Ham, directing people towards the Memorial Recreation Ground, home of the East London Rugby Club.

This wasn’t the first time the rugby club had benefitted from the generosity of the council. In 2015/16 in the guise of ‘Memorial Rugby’ it received £560,000 from the community infrastructure levy – the largest such payment to any organisation that year.

And it won’t be the last time either.

A recommendation is going to cabinet on Thursday to award a further £662,000 to the Memorial Recreation Ground to fund the installation of a second synthetic pitch “to replace the existing turf main rugby pitch.”

The Memorial Ground is run by a charity, East London Community Sports Association (ELCSA). Their accounts and a list of trustees can be found on the Charity Commission website.

The report to cabinet notes the extensive use of ruby facilities at the Memorial Recreation Ground, which 

… is home to East London Rugby Club which runs three adult teams with an estimated pool of 60 players. East London Ladies Rugby Club is also based at the site, running 2 teams with an estimated pool of 35 players. King’s Cross Steelers, London’s largest gay rugby club, also play from the site, running 4 teams with an estimated pool of 75 players.

Impressive, but…

Football drives the most significant level of participation at the site. An estimate of 2635 participants is reported to the Football Foundation as part of their annual monitoring and evaluation requirements.

There are a couple of FOI requests in progress (here and here) trying to get to the bottom of the Council’s generosity towards ELRC over the last four years which seems, on the face of things, to be out of all proportion to its significance.

Council COO Nick Bracken is a trustee of ELCSA and is also President of the rugby club. Simon Letchford, Director of Commissioning (Community and Environment), is also an ELCSA trustee. Newham CEO Kim Bromley-Derry is a member of ELRC. And soon-to-be-ex-Mayor Sir Robin Wales is a past rugby club president.

All of these are duly noted in the report to Cabinet. We are assured that none of the officers has been involved in decision-making about the proposal because

ELCSA… has a long lease on land adjacent to Memorial Park and could benefit from the provision of the funding.

What will annoy non-rugby playing residents of Forest Gate and Stratford is that this S106 and CIL money could have been used on the rebuilding of the Atherton Leisure centre. Costs and specifications on the Atherton were cut to meet a very tight re-build budget (in contrast to the East Ham campus project, which took place at the same time) when we could have had a much better Leisure Centre!

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4 Responses to “Generous to the last”

  1. MJ March 21, 2018 at 00:26 #

    There’s more, Gary Bird press officer @ELRFC is also Dir of Comm’s @LBN. Then notice the ELRFC treasurer is Deborah Bird…

    There are many hoping Fiaz will prioritise clearing out the long standing Old Boys club @LBN. The above is par for the course at present. Wales & Trainer is a nice start…

  2. urriti March 21, 2018 at 11:39 #

    Information governments could do with clearing out, l note that another excuse is being used not to update foi logs. See what do they y know site.

  3. Robbie G March 23, 2018 at 18:07 #

    What about keeping open the Hub in Star Lane or Grassroots in the Memorial Park.These have served the locals better than a rugby pitch.

    • Balanced reason March 25, 2018 at 00:12 #

      It’s a lot of money but if offers diversity in activity and brings in what is a higher class of people then I’m all for it

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