News update 09/07/18
WBC reply to NCFG complaint letter
Dear Mr Morgan
Thank you for your email dated 21st June 2018.
With regard to bookings the position is that we are not taking bookings since the site is closed. As mentioned previously we will be setting out our plans for the temporary use of the site in September. As has been explained now for several years it is the Council’s intention to redevelop this site as part of the wider regeneration of the London Road Estate and I reflect further on that below. In terms of the questions you posed my response is set out below as per your numbering.
1. As landlord the Council wishes to determine the condition of the site before it is opened up for wider community use. This would be common practice following the expiry of a long term lease.
2. It would not have been feasible with the previous tenant and their equipment in place.
3. I do not agree. We need to determine the safety of the site for future use and that requires the site to be closed. We will explain the future of the site in September. Until then it will remain closed to public access.
4. We have not ignored the request but do not considerate appropriate. Council officers met with Duncan Crook and NCFG in April. I have already responded on this. As stated on several occasions the site is destined to be redeveloped. The Council needs to retain flexibility as to its operation up until then and has therefore chosen to manage the facility itself. We also want to ensure community use is maximised. Given the future redevelopment of the site there is little merit in considering long term investment as a football venue.
5. The previous tenant has removed its own equipment. It is too early to comment on whether any of its needs replacing.
6. The Council has made it clear over several years that the facility would close and we have spoken with the previous tenant on numerous occasions explaining that they needed to find a new venue. Plans outlining the regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate were set out at the Newbury Vision Conference in 2014 and the matter was again raised in 2015 at the same conference when you were in attendance. There were ‘letter drops’ to residents of the Estate in 2014 and January 2015 in which our plans were clarified. In a meeting with the Football Club in 2015 the then Leader Councillor Roger Croft stated ‘if the club has not actively addressed the situation (the need to relocate) in a realistic way, closure of the club in August 2018 is a realistic possibility’. He went on to urge the Club to consider a ground share option.
7. The plan for the site has been made clear for many years and we made it clear in 2015 to the current tenant that their lease would expire in June 2018. There is a period of time now where the site needs to be managed prior to it being redeveloped and it is our intention to ensure that maximum community use is made of it.
I am not convinced that there is a need to meet to discuss further your concerns. We have had several meetings in the past at which our plans have been made clear. It is understood that you would like to see the site retained as a football ground. That is not our plan. If we are to meet then it would be helpful to know specifically what you wish to discuss. We are not yet in a position to explain exactly how the site will be used from September this year. We will inform the community of our intentions later in the summer.