Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pimping Oakfields

We have been advised that official negotiations are being held between Redbridge Council and representatives of Old Parkonians (Oakfields' tenants) regarding relocation of the club to an alternative site. Emails from Redbridge Council show that a series of meetings have previously been held in secret despite the huge local community campaign supported by residents, Barkingside 21, sports clubs and governing bodies.

Both parties will claim that previous talks were focussed on leases but any discussion on leases would clearly be pointless based on the plans to develop Oakfields which date back to 2008 at least. Housing proposals for Oakfields were produced in 2010 by Colin Buchanan, the company who did the "independent" Green Belt Review. Indeed, Old Parkonians reached out to residents in 2013 when they were unable to renegotiate their leases.

While it is understandable that Old Parkonians would wish to consider their options there seems to be absolutely no benefit or need to to so at this point when the plan is yet to be submitted to the inspector. If Oakfields were to be redeveloped the Council MUST provide equivalent or better facilities.

So why now? One answer is that the Council wishes to present the inspector with an "unencumbered" Oakfields i.e. soon to be vacant. Redbridge Sports Centre gave up leaseholds on pitches in exchange for freehold on the rest of their site and construction of the Jean Brown Centre. Frenford have agreed a relocation to the Drive in 2008 which included the development of a £6.4m centre. That just leaves Old Parkonians and the Council would love to present an agreed relocation proposal to tidy things up. We believe that Old Parkonians have worked this out and are trying to use it to their own benefit.

So, why should you care, aside from the objections we have made previously? Firstly this is a community asset. It does not belong to the politicians, the Council, Old Parkonians, Frenford or Redbridge Sports Centre. It belongs to the community; past, present and future. Secondly, the tenants are essentially social tenants paying a rate subsidised by the rest of us in exchange for safeguarding and maintaining a place of sporting excellence for the community. This has worked brilliantly for the mutual benefit of all for many years and we wish it to continue.

Oakfields is public land, an important local green space, part of the Green Belt, protected by Crown covenants, a community asset. Old Parkonians is historically associated with Ilford County High School - the local selective boys grammar school. Anyone can join Old Parkonians but only ICHS old boys can vote in their elections. That is not democratic. It would be unfair to single out Old Parkonians but it is not unfair to ask whether a private club, where your ability to vote is based on how you did in the 11 plus, should benefit from a public subsidised lease and then be able to treat that lease as its own property to be bartered.

The community have spoke clearly for years on this issue. It is truly disappointing and a reflection of our society that a handful of individuals from Council and Club are now pimping our playing fields for their own ends.


  1. One of the reasons I bought my house which backs on to Oakfield was because of the green space behind me. From what I have been listening to its the Ilford County High School Oakfield Trust which is the problem. I thought the football and cricket clubs own the leases on the land but its actually Ilford County High School Trust that own the lease. I have been told they are dealing with Redbridge council directly and they want money and a new ground to move. I have also been told that most of the footballers and cricketers want to stay at Oakfield.

    I have objected to the local plan and for housing on Oakfield like many people living close to Oakfield. We are not now only against the council but now against Ilford County High School Oakfield Trust who working with the council to make our lives much worse. This trust like the council only care about MONEY.

    We should get a petition going against Ilford County High School Oakfield Trust before its to late.


    Barkingside21 should get involved in this also.

    1. I second that. Shouldn't we have petition on Ilford Council High School. Its ridiculous that the council sees it fit to invest millions of pounds creating new sites for 2 cricket clubs? Should they be investing that same funds in building homes on brown field land for people who truly need the homes. Instead they are happy to sell the land to the highest bidder, when the proposed houses to be buildt on Oakfield would only be sold to people who can afford to purchase homes for at least £450k+ not the people who are on the housing waiting list for year. It seems utter crazy to invest in playing field when there is nothing wrong with the facilities at Oak field.

      The Government keeps saying create affordable housing in london, but is it really affordable when it take 2 Income to pay a mortgage for the current house prices.

      Redbridge Council please use the millions are you going to invest in creating new playing field and invest in housing for the homeless people or how about invest in our Kids, provide after school activities for the kids, social clubs something anything to keep the kids socialise and gain skills needed for their future. Taking away the playing fields from our community only encourages the kids to stay at home and play game what else are they meant to do if you are going to take the facilities away?

  2. Just to be clear, only a tiny number of people from the Old Parks Football Club - literally a handful - knew about this. In fact the people talking to the Council were only supposed to be negotiating longer leases for Oakfield, not talking about alternative grounds. Indeed, the Ilford County High School Trust (ICHSOT) that holds the leases didn't find out until 30th September, the last day for submitting comments on the Local Plan. The Save Oakfield Society and the Sports Governing Bodies were in the dark too.

    Chris Nutt - Sec, SOS; Trustee ICHSOT

  3. NeighbourhoodWatcher8:15 pm, October 26, 2016

    I would like to comment from my own personal observations.

    It's a bit like Brexit. BMW & Mercedes may have an interest in how sales of their cars may be affected by Brexit - but they are not negotiating ... Governments are. Until the "Brexit Trigger" is activated then any so-called "negotiations" are speculative.

    It is unfortunately a fact of modern life that people can say whatever they like in e-mails and, yes, blogs, without any proper authorisation, and they may be just presenting supposition as fact. If there would be a "petition" against ICHS then what would it say?

    There are a number of different organisations that use Oakfield in general and the south-west corner specifically. There are football clubs, cricket clubs, youth organisations, social clubs and they each have their own memberships and rules, as is perfectly lawful. They do not seem to me to have any problems with ethnicity, gender or age range. When, and if, a decision is made about the future of Oakfield (and it hasn't yet) then there will be a different situation with probably different lease(s) and possibly different leaseholders.

    We shall find out, won't we?

  4. LBR confirm Parkonians, Bealonians and other Oakfield Sports Clubs excluded from current "secret" negotiations with Trustee Leaseholders.

  5. Apparently LBR plan to improve boroughs sports pitches by destroying those already there at Oakfield. Hard to understand the logic.

    1. Exactly. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Oak field facilities are EXCELLENT why spend millions moving somewhere else.. why not build on the land they are moving the clubs to? Surely that would make more sense. Save the millions and invest it somewhere else

  6. I asked questions at last nights Local Forum at Beal School and Cllr Jas Athwal confirmed that secret negotiations are ongoing between the Council and ICHSOT (Ilford County High School Oakfield Trust) who are the leaseholders. Joanne Woodward also confirmed this.

    Its appalling that Cllr Athwal refuses to allow all interested parties into these negotiations. So the footballers, cricketers who use the playing fields and the local community are sidelined from these negotiations. ICHSOT clearly believe that they can do a deal or try to do a deal with the Council at the expense of the clubs and the local community.

    Cllr Athwal continues to plug the line of "we will listen" and I noted in his introduction speech at last nights Local Forum that he used the word "listen" as why they have these Local Forums. The reality, of course, is that this administration only "listen" to what they want to hear. This Council are not listening to the local community and last nights comments from the Leader of our Council again show why.

    If anyone from ICHSOT is reading this my recommendation is that you immediately engage with the sporting clubs that use Oakfield as well as the local community and SOS who are spearheading the campaign to protect Oakfield Playing Fields from being sold off for monetary gain.

  7. NeighbourhoodWatcher9:34 pm, October 27, 2016

    There seem to be two sets of issues emerging from what I have read and from what I have been told.

    ISSUES 1

    Redbridge Council has THREE (3) separate roles in all this and seems, from the "Plan" and other actions and statements, to be blurring the boundaries between them:

    1. They are the Freeholder of the Oakfield site ("The Landowner")
    2. The Landlord (v. Tenant) - with legal duties & responsibilities different from their rights & privileges as Landowners
    3. They are the Planning Authority

    ISSUES 2.

    ICHSOT are between a rock and a hard place on this. The blog refers to the 'deals' done with Frenford Clubs and with Redbridge Sports Centre (RSC) in order to, in the first case, facilitate the building of The Isaac Newton Academy and, in the latter case, facilitate the financing of the buildings required for the 2012 Olympics "Training Centre". The leases vacated by Frenford and the RSC left the south-west corner as the only remaining leased area on Oakfield, held by ICHSOT.

    At that time ICHSOT had a reasonable expectation of being treated 'no less fairly' than Frenford and the RSC - and the Council, of a different political hue at the time, could have sorted all this out there and then. Perhaps some of the ire currently being stirred up against ICHSOT should be directed at those people involved at that time. The current situation is not of ICHSOT'S making.

    I was not at the Local Forum but if the Leader of The Council actually said in a public meeting that the Council (which bit of it, by the way) are in "secret negotiations" with ICHSOT then that was inappropriate. The Council may think that they are secret but ICHSOT may not - and anyone may have 'confidential discussions' with a Doctor, Solicitor or Priest, just as a few examples, which are privileged.

    ICHSOT, as already stated elsewhere, have apparently been approached by the Council (in whichever of their three roles) - and it would have to be that way round - and the Trustees have a DUTY to listen to what is being proposed, without prejudice. That is not the fault of the Trustees.

    It is my understanding that ICHSOT are involved with SOS and with Sports' NGBs in a positive manner.

    I think that it would be helpful, as 'Howard' suggested, if ICHSOT engaged with interested parties at Oakfield. And also it is useful sometimes to say that nothing is happening, other than that the Council require a dialogue.

  8. perhaps the "freeholder" of Oakfield can explain why the two established Poplar trees have been cut down - They have been there for many years and were a habitat to much of the wildlife in the area - There are no large trees left in the vicinity and birds such as a hawk doesn't literally have the birds-eye view to espy his quarry and is now in danger of declining. One hawk is now a regular visitor to my garden. Someone please respond to this request.