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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

ARK Academy Award

Good to see that the Ark Academy in Wembley is getting an award for acting as a sports venue for the local community.  Not enough schools act in this way, in some ways for understandable reasons.  Aside from the sheer bother of managing a sports venue for hire, there is the issue of who bears the costs.

In the case of ARK, as I recall availability to the local community was part of the planning permission back in 2009.  It is also an outcome of that process in the sense that at the time the site was merely a muddy field, with a tendency to become water logged in winter.  Building the school upgraded the facilities to the ones described by the Kilburn Times as:

"On site facilities at the academy include a high-quality 3G astroturf pitch set against the backdrop of the famous Wembley Stadium.  There is an outdoor 11a side pitch and a 5a side pitch and during the colder months, visitors can book the indoor 5a side area.  The Football Association partly funded the project to create an excellent grassroots venue for Londoners to book online."

The application, and hence the facilities available to the wider community, were bitterly opposed by the Conservative Party and the Tory Party at the time, as Martin Francis' contemporaneous account recalls.  Incidentally, Martin was highly critical of me in that for voting in favour of the planning permission.  He seems to have regarded disagreeing with him as being an inherently unprincipled thing to do, which it is not.

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