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More council criticism 26/10/20

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, October 26, 2020 18:19:07

Sat, 24 Oct 2020

West Berkshire Council refuses to apologise for ‘blunder’ which cost taxpayers almost £1mPublic money has ‘gone to waste due to poor project management’ claims opposition leader

Sat, 24 Oct 2020

Faraday Road football ground in Newbury being used as a ‘cash cow’ by West Berkshire CouncilTown councillors express concern it is being used to fund rest of LRIE development

Cost of closing ground 22/10/20

Uncategorised Posted on Thu, October 22, 2020 18:44:43

Thu, 22 Oct 2020

Taxpayer cost of closing Faraday Road football ground in Newbury revealed. West Berkshire Council kicked Newbury Football Club out the ground in 2018

Recent press coverage 21/10/20

Uncategorised Posted on Wed, October 21, 2020 21:58:04

16th October
Council refuses to apologise for £1 million London Road Industrial Estate blunder

Thu, 03 Sept 2020

Council to be quizzed over plan to redevelop London Road Industrial EstateNewbury resident will ask whether businesses will be forced out when regeneration gets underway

Fri, 28 Aug 2020

Plans to regenerate Newbury’s London Road Industrial Estate move a step closerNew development brief has been published and gives two options for redevelopment

Wed, 12 Aug 2020

Unanswered questions over West Berkshire Council inquiry into London Road procurement process’A lot of the questions that the public and the press wanted answering are likely to go unanswered’

Mon, 20 Jul 2020

Newbury FC may be forced to permanently relocate to ThatchamConsultation finds no ideal site for new ground

LRIE regeneration development brief 19/10/20

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, October 19, 2020 23:08:04

From West Berkshire Council website:

We’d like your views on the Avison Young Draft Development Brief for regenerating the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE).

The survey is open until midnight on 20 October 2020.

NCFG comment summary (full version here):

The AV brief provided by West Berkshire Council is narrow, restrictive and prescriptive and designed to provide the predetermined output that certain members of WBC wanted which is a housing led scheme

The report should have been a thorough, open, impartial and evidence-based assessment of ALL options for the LRIE

The Football ground should not be included as part of the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE) at it has been in its current location since 1963 which predated proposals to establish an industrial estate at the beginning of the 1970s, shortly before the abolition of Newbury Borough Council. The boundary of redevelopment should therefore exclude the football ground, as it excludes Newspaper House

Why is there no mention of the opportunity to enhance or redevelop any part of the area for sports or leisure facilities

The draft report totally ignores the fact that the current football ground, which is on a site of 3 acres and is open space / green infrastructure and will be lost. Why does the report not make it clear that the masterplan will result in a net loss of green infrastructure / open space?

The draft report acknowledges that the LRIE is in a flood risk area and the Newspaper House, next to the football ground was refused planning by WBC due to the flood risk and the Government Planning Inspectorate upheld this decision

The draft report lists Newbury Community Football Groups CIC planning application as a significant (planning) application within the LRIE but then totally ignores it as an option

As a minimum the report should have looked at the option of retaining the football round at its current location especially in light of the fact that WBC still has no alternative / replacement venue and the obvious planning challenges that will be faced if flats are to be built on the football ground.

The draft report does not acknowledge the status and importance of the current football ground, which is disappointing as the football ground is clearly and well defined within the West Berkshire Core Strategy (2006 – 2026) Development Plan Document which was adopted in July 2012

The football ground in Faraday Road is specifically classified as a cultural facility, as a consequence, the facility is protected from redevelopment. An application for planning permission or reclassification (under the forthcoming Local Plan) would have to justify an alternative use.

From a planning perspective there can be no doubt whatsoever that the football ground is covered (and should be protected) by both the Town and Country Act 1990 and the National Planning Policy Framework – February 2019.

The report does not provide any detail behind the numbers provided, for example what does the Total Acquisition Costs of £0.5m (plot 2) and £0.4m (plot 4) cover? It is more likely these accusation costs are several million pounds

When has it been assumed that the relocated football ground will be operational?

How much has been allocated for sustainable drainage?

How much has been allocated for decontamination?

Events over last 10 years at Faraday Road 30/07/20

Uncategorised Posted on Thu, July 30, 2020 18:55:10

To correct WBC on their claim that the ground wasn’t used much by the community, here are 15 Newbury Today articles about events and charity matches at Faraday Road 2011-2018. These are just the more recent ones which got in the online news, not including those in the NWN paper and numerous birthday parties, wedding receptions, Xmas dos, wakes & meetings (and there will be many more dated before these):

and, just for info, other related mentions….

NCFG article from Newbury Today 24/07/20

Uncategorised Posted on Sat, July 25, 2020 16:38:59

Article from Newbury Today and NCFG reply 20/07/20

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, July 20, 2020 22:20:59

Newbury FC “may have to accept Henwick”

NCFG Comment:

Until its eviction in June 2018 Newbury FC managed the ground on behalf of the Council. Newbury FC had teams that played at the ground but they were contractually obliged to make the ground accessible and available to the community which they of course did. Over the year’s youth teams, ladies’ teams, boys & girls’ teams and a myriad of other teams and organisations used and benefited from the ground that has been there since 1963.

This is not nor never has been about the loss of a home ground to one football team.  It is about the loss of the ground to the whole community and this fact has continually been pointed out to the Council yet they persistently, irrationally and for its own convenience seems to ignore this, which is inexcusable as (since 10th October 2016) the Faraday Road football pitch and associated facilities was listed by West Berkshire Council as an Asset of Community Value – which is unequivocal evidence of demand for use and essential value to the community.

Newbury FC could be forced to relocate Thatcham if an alternative football ground to Faraday Road can’t be found

NCFG Comment:

Newbury FC have already been forced to relocate to Henwick (a park pitch) and as a consequence they are forced to play in lower leagues. 

Let’s not forget that until a few years ago Newbury FC played in similar leagues to Hungerford and Thatcham. Whereas Hungerford and Thatcham have prospered and moved up the leagues, which is great for their respective towns’ civic pride, Newbury have been forced to play in lower leagues simply because West Berks Council would not provide the security of tenure that was required to compete in the higher leagues. This issue was further compounded when the Council prematurely and without justification evicted Newbury FC in June 2018.  In 2020 Newbury we are now left with a totally dilapidated and unused football ground and the conclusion has to be that this Council really does not understand or support sport in Newbury.

If the Council had, as it should have, provided a replacement facility of equal or better standard within a similar and suitable location BEFORE it closed the current ground then then no-one would have had grounds to complain or object.  But unfortunately, 2 years after the closure of the existing ground no alternative location has been identified and no timeframe has been provided for any new facility to become operational which is totally unacceptable and unjustifiable behaviour.

A West Berkshire Council (WBC) consultation on the feasibility of moving the football club to Northcroft (prone to flooding) , Henwick or Pigeon’s farm (too small)

NCFG Comment:

NCFG has requested many times a copy of this report, yet to date the Council have totally ignored this request.

We know that they’ve spent (wasted) up to £18,000 on this report from Surfacing Standards Limited (SSL) yet it was already known well before the report was commissioned and acknowledged by at least one senior Councillor that the 3 sites were never going to be suitable for differing reasons.  What the report should have looked at was the suitability of all possible potential sites including the existing site at Faraday Road.

Cllr Howard Woollaston said that if another site couldn’t be found then Henwick, where the club played this season, was the best option.

“That’s purely my personal view that Henwick is the best option that’s there”

NCFG Comment:

Is Councillor Woollaston aware that the Faraday Road football ground is green infrastructure and it is open space and is protected by the Council’s own policies?

The principle policies in the Core Strategy that cover the football ground are:

Area Delivery Plan Policy 2 Newbury (ADPP2):

Existing community facilities will be protected and, where appropriate, enhanced. These include leisure and cultural facilities, which contribute to the attraction of the town for both residents and visitors.”

CS.18 – Green Infrastructure:

Newbury Football Ground is identified in Local Planning Policy CS.18 as a vital part of Green Infrastructure in West Berkshire;

The Policy is clear “the districts Green Infrastructure will be protected and enhanced” and “Developments resulting in the loss of green infrastructure or harm to its use or enjoyment by the public will not be permitted”.

What hat is Councillor Woollaston wearing when he makes this personal view?  Is it as portfolio lead for Public Health & Community Wellbeing, Sports and Culture is at as a member of the LRIE steering group or as a member of the Executive?  

“Faraday Road is needed as the next quarter for Newbury to get a load of affordable housing in – it’s the only solution”

NCFG Comment:

Why is it the only solution?  How many is “get a load of” housing?  Let’s see what evidence has led the Council to this new conclusion and what other solutions were evaluated and discounted as part of this process. 

Only in the past few weeks has affordable housing been mentioned and that is by Councillor Woollaston in a Penny Post article – the council seem to be making it up as it goes along.    See below

WBC Press Release 21 June 2018: Speaking about the council’s plans, councillor James Fredrickson (Con, Victoria) reiterated the need for more high-quality business space in Newbury, which the redevelopment of the LRIE would achieve.

Mr Fredrickson said: “Whilst we would have liked to allow the football club to stay at the pitch, we now need the site to be available for redevelopment to commence.”

It’s hard not to accuse the Council of predisposition, predetermination and bias with respect to their historical and current attitude and actions regarding the football ground at Faraday Road. In simple terms they appear to have made a predetermined decision to build flats (they will not be affordable homes) on the football ground without taking into account all the merits of alternative arguments that should be based on empirical evidence and what’s in best overall public interest.

The very fact that Council have commissioned 2 separate consultancy assignments (Avison Young & Surfacing Standards Ltd) both of which explicitly excludes (forbids) looking, even at the possibility, of retaining the ground that’s been in its current location for over 57 years and has a live planning application in progress is in itself clearly a case of predetermination.

Is Councillor Woollaston predetermining the outcome of the Avison Young report (that cost the Council over £85,000)?

“With the benefit of hindsight and 20/20 vision, clearly we wouldn’t have closed the Faraday Road site when it was”

NCFG Comment:

To be fair to Councillor Woollaston it is the first time that a West Berkshire Councillor has actually acknowledged that there was no justification in closing the ground in June 2018.  However, Councillor Woollaston should now urgently look at opening the ground for its intended purposes, especially in light of the fact that no alternative location is in sight. 

However, hindsight and 20/20 Vision does not come into it. The Council have just ignored all evidence and demand.  In 2016 7,000 people signed a petition to keep the ground open, in 2018 2,000 people signed a petition supporting NCFG’s planning application for a new 3G pitch and new club house at Faraday Road.  NCFG’s planning application is still live and being processed.

There is a simple and obvious way forward.  NCFG and the footballing community of Newbury proposes that the current ground, in Faraday Road, is re-opened and returned to its former status as a Step 5 facility without further delay so that it can be used for its intended purposes by the whole community.

Once opened and returned to its former status NCFG wants the ground to remain open until either:

  • NCFG plans for a 3G pitch and new club house at the current site has been delivered, or

  • The Council has provided a new and fully operational facility which is in a suitable location and is of equivalent or better quality (as defined by Sport England) than the current Faraday Road football ground.

NCFG believes that it is vital for Newbury’s civic pride / aspirations and for the overall health and well-being of the whole community that organised football can be provided, for all ages and genders at the best possible facilities.

NCFG believes that a town of Newbury’s size and stature needs a football ground that can provide the facilities required to support teams that can compete in the National League System.

NCFG has a zoom meeting  scheduled with Councillor Woollaston this week (Wednesday 22nd July 2020) which will hopefully be positive and productive and we will be asking Councillor Woollaston, in his role as  Executive Portfolio Holder for Public Health & Community Wellbeing, Sports and Culture, to urgently look at opening the existing ground at Faraday Road ground for its intended purposes.

“I wasn’t part of the administration at that stage so I don’t know the ins and outs of the details. But my personal understanding is that it all got caught up in the court case”

NCFG Comment:

The Council wasted over £300,000 in defending the court case, which has nothing to do with the closing of the football ground.  The simple and irrefutable fact is that Council should not have closed the current football ground unless or until a replacement ground of equal or better quality was operational. 

Editorial from Penny Post 16/07/20

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, July 20, 2020 22:08:15

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