A CRICKET umpire has accused a model aircraft society of flying planes over playing fields with games in progress, forcing them to be abandoned.

Jon Lilley said matches he had officiated at had been called off because of safety concerns at Pleasington Playing Fields.


New signs have recently been put up to say Blackburn and District Model Aircraft Club to say they can now fly planes until 8pm three nights a week rather than the previous time of 6pm.

A charity event held last month by the aircraft club led to at least two matches being abandoned, he said.

Mr Lilley said the aircraft club had told members of Pleasington Cricket Club, who play on the fields, should not play during these times.

But he pointed out that a public footpath continued to be used at all times.

He said: “For years the model aircraft club have been based down at Pleasington Playing Fields and up until now the planes have not been a big issue.

“But after they have recently changed their timings it has caused issues for us being able to play our night matches.

“It used to be that they could fly until 6pm on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday, but this has now changed to 8pm and we had to abandon some matches because they claimed they had booked out five pitches.

“We were established in 1895, long before the aircraft club.

“It is creating a lot of friction and I feel like local cricket is being slowly strangled. We have the option of using Blacksnape playing fields but the state of them is horrendous, they’re not fit for use.

“There is a public footpath at Pleasington which gets used all the time so why are we being pushed out at these times?

“I need the council to realise that if this continues it’s going to seriously damage local cricket.”

The charity event held by the aircraft club was an annual festival to raise money for Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley and drew hundreds of people.

For this year’s event, Mr Lilley said the aircraft club took out five of the pitches and cricketers were told to get off them because they were booked, which only left three pitches.

Up to five matches are played on a Saturday in the Blackburn District Amateur Cricket League, which is split into two divisions.

The model aircraft club has exclusive rights to fly at the playing fields by paying rent to the borough council and has been flying planes there since the 1930s.

Mr Lilley said he had no problem with the planes being flown in the fields but the change in schedule has not only disturbed matches but caused a major health and safety concern.

He said: “These model planes go at 100mph sometimes and if they ever hit someone they would kill them.

“There must be somewhere else for this club to go in Blackburn if they want to fly planes later at night, but at Pleasington they are becoming a real danger.”

The Blackburn and District Model Aircraft Club and Blackburn with Darwen Council were unavailable for comment.