Murdoch residents pitched in battle over Bert Jeffrey Park cricket wicket

Xabi Bell (8) and Jay Harrison (9) are among the Murdoch residents upset about a turf wicket recently installed at Bert Jeffrey Park.
Xabi Bell (8) and Jay Harrison (9) are among the Murdoch residents upset about a turf wicket recently installed at Bert Jeffrey Park.

CLOSE to 300 Murdoch residents have signed a petition protesting against the installation of a turf wicket at Bert Jeffrey Park and questioning why they were not consulted beforehand.

The wicket was paid for by Applecross Cricket Club, which trains at Shirley Strickland Reserve but currently lacks a turf wicket, a requirement to host home games.

Residents believe Bert Jeffrey is too small to accommodate a cricket pitch and fear losing access to the park during training sessions and weekend games.

Peter and Vicki Oldham started the petition after finding out about plans to install the pitch from workers adjusting reticulation at Bert Jeffrey.

“My sister went to the City of Melville the next day on February 21 and was told letters were going out to nearby residents but they didn’t arrive until February 27,” Mr Oldham said.

“By then work was already well and truly underway; despite the letter itself saying work would only begin in early March.”

Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox said a scheduled reticulation upgrade at Bert Jeffery Park had presented an opportunity to re-assess how best to utilise the reserve.

“Many such spaces are used for active sports in the City of Melville, with neighbouring residential properties rarely reporting issues,” Dr Silcox said.

“The use and enjoyment of such public places is part of our community adding to our vibrancy and sense of place, and while the upgrades will have a limited impact on users and residents letters were sent to adjacent residences to inform them of the upgrade works.”

Dr Silcox said that letters were sent to residents adjacent to Bert Jeffrey Park on February 23 and that the wicket was installed on March 1, with some preliminary works completed in the week prior.

Nearby resident Leanne Harrison said Bert Jeffrey was already heavily utilised by neighbourhood kids and dog walkers and questioned why the wicket had not been installed at Applecross Cricket Club’s home base.

“Shirley Strickland Reserve would have made a lot more sense, Bert Jeffrey is a tiny little park with very limited parking,” she said.

Dr Silcox said the redeveloped Shirley Strickland would likely include a senior and junior football club, exposing any potential turf wicket to unacceptable levels of wear and tear during winter.

“It should be noted that (Bert Jeffrey Park) is regarded as being suitable for lower participation sports as an overflow or second ground, with only storage needed but no requirements for club rooms, toilet and changing facilities,” he said.

“The field size and available parking at Bert Jeffery Park is suitable to accommodate cricket and a turf wicket.”

Applecross Cricket Club president Ryan Carmody said the pitch would rarely be used for practice sessions and that the vast majority of matches would be limited to 12pm to 6pm on a Saturday.

“Players at the club are also City of Melville ratepayers and have as much right to use the park as anyone,” he said.