Young footballers at a club in Oxford had their training sessions cancelled due long grass on public parks.

Oxford Blackbirds FC based in Blackbird Leys play on council owned ground off Cuddesdon Way, but the grass was too long in May and June for sessions to go ahead.

Oxford City Council has reduced the number of times their contractors cut grass vergres as part of a wider campaign to encourage biodiversity.

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Paul West from Oxford Blackbirds FC said: “It has had a massive impact on us; we have had to cancel training sessions because of it.

“I tried contacting the council but had no reply.

“It feels as if we are fighting a losing battle; they do not seem to care about Blackbird Leys.”

This comes following comments made about the issue by Wycombe Wanderers player Garath McCleary on Twitter.

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The football star grew up in Blackbird Leys and has raised concerns that kids are being prevented from having a ‘local kickabout.’

He said: “I’m just wondering does no mow may include June?”

The council then responded saying: “In order to support biodiversity, we are mowing all grass verges in the city once a year”.

Mr McClearly replied: “Once a year. It’s not just the verges it’s parks in the estate I grew up maybe you haven’t been there?

“The grass is literally past my knees, where are the kids supposed to have a ‘local’ kick about?”

The football star added: “By the way I don’t benefit from this it’s for the children, the community enjoying the summer how I remembered.

“Estates like Blackbird Leys are so easily forgotten.”

Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East explained that she had taken the issue of mowing sports pitches up with the council.

She said: "It's important that sports pitches are mown appropriately for the benefit of the local community and sports clubs.

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“I am happy to take up any concerns about sports pitch maintenance with the council, and have written to them about this matter."

Oxford City Council was contacted for comment in relation to the claims made to this newspaper.


They have maintained that the grass in Blackbird Leys where the football club train was cut once a month in May and June. 

A council spokesperson said: "The grass in Blackbird Leys Park is cut once a month between April and October and we can confirm this was done in May and June.

"The football season ended in May and the football pitches stop getting mowed and marked out, as happens every year, as part of renovation work.

"The pitches will again be mowed and marked out for the start of the new football season."

  • An earlier version of this article stated the lack of park grass cutting was due to the council 'No Mow May' campaign. Although the No Mow May campaign restricted grass cutting on public verges it did not impact the usual grass cutting of public parks. We are happy to clarify this and apologise for any confusion.