JERICHO ECHO ARTICLE

We want football pitches

Recreation use of Port Meadow

April 1987

Lampposts in North Oxford were festooned with notices for a Public Meeting on Recreation Use of the Port Meadow Tip Site. At present sheep graze (and recreat?) on the 85 acres of land.
The City Council produced a paper with three options for the future of the Tip:

  • Sheep Grazing
  • Golf Course
  • Nature Park

Being well aware of the dire lack of recreation facilities in Jericho and North Oxford, I decided to consult with some local youth. They were decidedly unenthusiastic about the Council’s options. They wanted

  • Football pitches
  • Netball Pitches
  • An Adventure Playground

We decided to put our ideas on paper, circulate them at the Public Meeting and argue for them. We concluded the following were the only play areas n«arby:

Aristotle Lane; Children’s recreation and kickabout area but no proper pitch. Problems with balls going into the canal! Also hitting small children in the playground.
Port Meadow; Not suitable for football - too uneven and marshy.
St. Barnabas School; Out of bounds to local youth. Football is officially v not allowed because the sub-soil will not take a lot of wear.
St. Philip & St. James School has no real playing fields.
The nearest pitch Is at Cutteslowe (Whaaat!)

THE PUBLIC MEETING

I persuaded Joss Peto (nearly 14 years)to accompany me to the meeting and we distributed our paper to most of the 70-odd North Oxford Public present (Joss was 25 years younger than anyone else!)
I was pleasantly surprised by the response from those present (especially parents) who bemoaned the lack of play facilities and applauded our efforts in drawing attention to this.

It became clear during the meeting that the Port Maiadow Tip site was not suitable for many of our ideas because:
There is no vehicular access The ground is still volatile and occasionally emits methane gas(j) so no structure (e.g. changing rooms) could be built on the site.

The most popular option was clearly the creation of a natural habitat including broad-leafed woodland, ponds and thickets, with a fitness trail. The meeting did agree to include informal netball/football pitches in the recommendations to the City Council. They also agreed to look at the possibility of creating formal pitches on other sites in the area, for example, Aristotle Lane.

Joss and I were delighted at the result of our own “informal consultation process”. Perhaps the City Council should take lessons from our efforts - what about special Youth Consultation Meetings in the future?

Please contact me if you wish to join our campaign for more recreation facilities in the area.
Anne Mobbs 43A Cardigan Street, Jericho, Oxford. Tel: Oxford 53755
P.S. The City Recreation Committee met in March and agreed all the suggestions made at the Meeting including our Netball/ Football pitches on the Tip Site

Author: Anne Mobbs


This article appeared in Jericho Echo No 32, April 1987.