by Tom Jones
Wednesday, 11
January 2023
Reaction
16:50

Colehill Cricket Club: the latest NIMBY victim

The century-old club is just one of many rural fixtures now under attack
by Tom Jones
Source: Colehill Cricket Club.

This week the Telegraph reported that Colehill Cricket Club in Dorset, formed in the 1920s, ‘could be forced to fold following complaints from a neighbour about flying cricket balls’.

Pressure from a small group of recent neighbours, irritated by the balls hitting their fences and landing in their gardens, has resulted in adult cricket matches being suspended for 2023, after previous plans to install netting and only hitting sixes on the other side of the ground were defeated. The club has been there for over 100 years; the outraged neighbours since 2014.


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Not content with just ‘preserving the character of their area’, it seems, NIMBYs are now actively seeking to destroy it.

Colehill’s is a story that has been read before. Croft Circuit, in Richmondshire, was hit with a huge fine for noise pollution, and a yearly 40-day limit relating to on-track activity, despite being used as a racing circuit since 1949. Likewise, in Manchester, neighbours of West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC objected to the granting of an alcohol licence — despite the club already selling alcohol on match days — and made noise complaints. This latter grievance despite the club being there since 1996.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago might concern slightly more serious matters than the vaguely Wodehousian silliness of the Colehill story. Yet the great Russian author described how the secret police would make their arrests using similarly minute steps, each of which ‘consists of a series of incidental irrelevancies, of a multitude of things that do not matter, and there seems no point in arguing about any one of them individually.’ The question is, as Solzhenitsyn asked, ‘At what exact point, then, should one resist?’

Each of these steps is an infinitesimally small incident, a 500-word local news article of little interest to the nation. But each one is worth resisting. Rural England is blessed with thousands of these clubs, each one a key part of what Michael Sandel calls ‘our common life’. They provide a strong sense of belonging and an all too rare opportunity to form an in-person, concrete community.

Last year the French government passed a law protecting what Joël Giraud, the Minister for Rural Affairs, called the ‘sensory heritage’ of its rural areas, in other words the typical sounds and smells of the countryside. This was exemplified by Maurice the rooster, who became a national hero when he and his owner were sued for noise pollution by neighbours, who were woken up on their occasional trips to their second home in Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron by his dawn chorus.

Perhaps it’s time we offered the crack of leather on willow the same protection as Maurice the rooster’s morning call. We cannot allow NIMBYs, whose merit is loudly celebrated by the doubtful evidence of their own applause, to place their future in peril. All because they failed to consider the consequences of buying a house with a backyard on the boundary fence of a century-old cricket club.

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Billy Bob
Billy Bob
26 days ago

If you buy a house near something pre existing, be it a pub, cricket club, stadium, farm etc. then any complaints should be thrown in the bin by the police. You knew it was there before you bought the house

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
26 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

This makes too much sense.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
25 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Absolutely. People moved in near our local church and objected to the bells ringing on a Sunday morning as it woke them. Bearing in mind that the service begins at 11.15, all I can say is they should be up by then anyway.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
25 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The same is happening in Amsterdam with regards to the red light district. Strait-laced professionals move in and then complain to local politicians about the dirt, noise and chaos.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
26 days ago

We’ve had our local bellringing group stopped from practicing on Friday evenings because ONE newcomer to the village complained about the noise. This after a hundred years or so.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
26 days ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

Do I upvote this or downvote it?

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
25 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s up to you Jim. You could do neither. But those 17 upvotes I see at the moment definitely confirm my opinion on the matter.
I live in a farming area and sometimes we are notified of a planning application for a new house or housing development in the area. It often occurs that a farmer adjacent to the new development will comment on the application to point out that his dairy farm is nearby and he starts milking at 5 or 6 am and there will be some noise and/or smell. Usually they never either object or support the application.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
24 days ago
Reply to  Steve Elliott

I was being a bit of an ass. It felt like an upvote would be supporting the complaints of one person.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
25 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

What was your decision?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
26 days ago

This seems to be a bizarre reversal of what generally happens in America. Here, it’s almost always an athletic venue, airport, wind farm, chemical plant, paper mill, or some other business that is objectionable on the grounds of it being too noisy, too smelly too much of an eyesore, generating excess pedestrian or auto traffic, etc. being built by corporate interests in league with local and state governments over the objections of homeowners who might have been living there for generations. Those objections make a certain amount of sense. For people to complain about businesses that were there BEFORE they arrived and successfully get them shut down really beggars the imagination.