Cricket club tries to avoid being run out of park with elections looming

The Applecross Cricket Club in action at Bert Jeffrey Park.
The Applecross Cricket Club in action at Bert Jeffrey Park.

TOP local cricketers will again change behind sheets and use portable toilets this summer while the saga of Bert Jeffrey Park heightens as a local government election issue.

After a turf wicket was installed at the Murdoch park in February 2017 to suit Applecross Cricket Club, the cricketers lodged future plans for an amenities building on the boundary, sparking a controversy that still has not died down.

People who attended last month’s special meeting of electors – called to consider a swag of development issues in the local area, including Melville Bowling Club and Tompkins Park – voted also to ask Melville Council to stop its planned changes for Bert Jeffrey Park.

But with the council in ‘caretaker mode’ ahead of next month’s local government elections and the WA Suburban Turf Cricket Association season looming on October 12, the Applecross club is caught in the crosshairs and will again be reliant on temporary facilities, such as portable toilets, marquees and changing sheets.

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Club president Jack Barendse said the timing of the cricket season and the elections was bad from the club’s perspective.

“Everything has come to a standstill right when we really need to get it moving but there’s nothing we can do, elections are important,” he said.

“All we want to do is play cricket; that’s been the rhetoric from the start for us.”

The building is expected to have space for two changerooms, toilets, kitchenette and storage facilities.

A Friends of Bert Jeffrey Park spokeswoman said community members had a strong objection to organised sport being played at the park because it was a fundamental change to the open space.

“It is not about the cricket but about the fact that for decades the BJP has been open green space, which has been available to all and has never been available exclusively for any one group,” she said.

The WA Suburban Turf Association requires clubs to have turf wickets for its top grades and Bert Jeffrey Park was selected after a 20-year search.

“Shirley Strickland Reserve is our home ground and that will always be our hub,” Mr Barendse said.

“The issue there is we can’t put a turf wicket there because it’s a shared facility.

“We were hiring ovals in Nollamara, Victoria Park, North Perth, always outside of the City of Melville.

“It’s a financial thing for us. We’ve emptied the bank account to get this here.

“The biggest issue is if we had everything stopped at Bert Jeffrey, then it would kill the club.”

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