ILMINSTER NEWS: New pathway to Tony Rice Bar planned for recreation ground

ILMINSTER NEWS: New pathway to Tony Rice Bar planned for recreation ground

ILMINSTER Cricket Club wants to install a new path which will lead from Canal Way to the Tony Rice Bar on the recreation ground.

The club is currently carrying out a major refurbishment of the bar facilities – previously known as The Shed – on Ilminster Recreation Ground in readiness for the start of the new cricket season which is fast approaching.

But a new pathway is needed from Canal Way to the building to make it easier for people in the event of bad weather when they would normally have to walk across wet and waterlogged ground.

Club members Craig Rice and John Pallister met with Ilminster Town Council on Tuesday (February 20, 2018) to see if the authority would be prepared to help fund the project with funding up to £1,750.

Acting club secretary, Stuart Shepherd, who is also president of the club, in a letter to the council, said: “The new path will not only offer an easier access to the Tony Rice Shed, it will also complete a route from north to south across the recreation ground, for the benefit of all residents.

“We would like the council to pay for the materials only, while the cricket club would carry on the work.”

Mr Shepherd is also a town councillor, but left Tuesday night’s meeting when the cricket club issue was reached on the agenda took no part in the discussion having declared a prejudicial interest – as did Cllr Roger Swann, who is a club vice-president.

There were concerns among some councillors about who would be liable in the event of anyone having an accident on the proposed footpath – the cricket club or the council which owns the recreation ground.

Cllr Val Keitch, the Mayor of Ilminster, said that a full Health and Safety risk assessment would need to be provided.

“But my assumption is that if the path is on our land we would be liable,” she said.

Plans to install a concrete path have already been scotched in favour of a pathway with firm scalping material which will be suitable for wheelchair-users and those pushing buggies and prams.

There are also plans to install a self-closing gate from the proposed path onto Canal Way which would need the removal of a small piece of hedge to make the exit/entrance wider.

The club representatives were told that they would need to contact South Somerset District Council about widening the gap in the hedge.

Cllr Keitch said she did not think it would be a problem, but added: “If you were talking about taking out 30ft of hedge some people would be jumping up and down about it, but we’re not.”

Councillors agreed to support the proposals in principle subject to final costings and risk assessment and delegate a final decision to the council’s open spaces committee.

The Shed has been named the Tony Rice Bar in memory of Tony Rice who died in 2016 at the age of 75 following a long and bravely fought battle with Parkinson's Disease. He had been a Life Member of the club and a fantastic all-round sportsman for Ilminster in his younger days. 

PHOTO - TOP: The Tony Rice Bar - previously known as The Shed - on Ilminster Recreation Ground.