News archive

News archive

Stand trashed! 01/11/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Fri, November 02, 2018 20:25:16

Just look at the state of the stand!

This picture was taken by someone who walked into the unlocked ground at Faraday Road and shows a dilapidated stand (which West Berks Council owns by default) with its 400 seats missing. Presumably, this is the start of the demolition by Hungerford Town's contractors.

There is no way WBC has done its ground inspection or made any preparations for its multi-use sports area as they promised in June (and it was supposed to open in September). Not the first time the council has said one thing and done something completely different, or just nothing at all...



WBC multi-sport announcement removed 31/10/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Fri, November 02, 2018 20:23:33

WBC June press release goes missing!

Spookily, the council's news page which announced the change of use of Faraday Road to become a multi-sports venue in June has gone missing. Nothing to do WBC's inability to answer questions about how their decision came about or their confusion about when it will open? (it should have been September 2018, but it's still shut!).

Article was here :~



Football at Northcroft? 29/10/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Fri, November 02, 2018 20:21:45

WBC announces joint football initiative with Newbury FC at the Vision Conference 2018

Chief Exec Nick Carter confirms he is in conversation with Newbury FC about the football club relocating to Northcroft playing fields.

But he also admits there was no consultation about turning Newbury Football Ground at Faraday Road into a turn-up-and-play multi-use sports field! (the question Cllr Fredrickson has so far failed to answer)

See Newbury Today article here

See Nby reporting article here

See WBC press release here



Nick Carter's reply about the stand 25/10/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Wed, October 31, 2018 21:14:58

From: Nick Carter <Nick.Carter@westberks.gov.uk>

Date: 25 October 2018 at 11:17:14 +01:00

Subject: RE: FW: Spectator stand removal from Newbury Football Ground

To: deputychair@ncfg.uk

Dear John,

The Stand was purchased by the Football Club many years ago. Since then Football Club has gone through many changes and an argument could be made that it has reverted to the landlord although we take the view that since it was purchased by a tenant it should remain as a tenant’s fixture. Aside from this, I understand that the Stand is not being sold but gifted to Hungerford and is an arrangement between Hungerford and Newbury FC. WBC is satisfied that the outgoing tenant is able to come to such an arrangement in relation to the Stand. We also take the view that this arrangement best serves the wider community and puts the stand to good use.

I hope that clarifies our position.

Kind regards

Nick



NCFG question to WBC executive 18/10/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Wed, October 31, 2018 21:13:49

In June 2018 WBC released the following press release:

https://info.westberks.gov.uk/article/35379

The site (Newbury Football Ground) will be temporarily unavailable while the Council surveys the site to assess its condition and safety, and to put in place the arrangements to allow the community to use it. Subject to the results of the survey work we aim to have the site open in September and will be making it freely available to the public as a multi-use games area. While residents may choose to use it for multiple different sports, it will be marked up with two five-a-side pitches for those wanting to play football.

Residents will be able to simply turn up and use the space rather than needing to book in advance. These arrangements will be kept under review by West Berkshire Council to ensure the facility is being used responsibly.

Question: What evidence did WBC take into account and what consultation took place to support the decision as outlined in the press release above?



but on the night.... unfortunately Cllr James Fredrickson failed to answer it :(

NCFG reply to Nick Carter about stand 15/10/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Tue, October 16, 2018 23:26:18

Re: FW: Spectator stand removal from Newbury Football Ground

15 October 2018 07:13 65 KB

From: deputychair@ncfg.uk

To: Nick Carter

Cc: Graham.Jones@westberks.gov.uk, James.Fredrickson@westberks.gov.uk,
Bob.Sharples@sportengland.org,richard.benyon.mp@parliament.uk,
editor@newburynews.co.uk, fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk,
chair@ncfg.uk,press@ncfg.uk, treasurer@ncfg.uk, secretary@ncfg.uk,
planning@ncfg.uk

Dear Nick,

Thank you for your reply.

You state that there is no evidence that West Berkshire Council owns the spectator stand, so you are implying that Newbury FC definitely does own it. For the avoidance of any doubt, please can you confirm and provide us with the supporting documentation and evidence?

As the landlord of the football ground and all the buildings on it we would expect that as part of its due diligence the council has to be 100% certain of ownership before entering into discussions regarding the removal of such a key asset. Removal of the stand also contravenes the Asset of Community Value which WBC has acknowledged since November 2016 so please can you elaborate on how changing the purpose of the facility is covered off?

To be clear, Newbury Community Football Group’s position is that there is no evidence to suggest that Newbury FC owns the stand and we therefore maintain that your (and the community’s) asset is being sold to Hungerford Town FC, apparently with your knowledge and blessing.

Given that there is a significant question regarding the ownership of the stand please can you confirm before the end of tomorrow, Tuesday 16 October (when NCFG next meets) that WBC will not allow the stand to be dismantled until these matters have been conclusively determined and further clarification/evidence is provided?

Your sincerely,

John Stewart
NCFG Deputy Chair
www.ncfg.uk



Nick Carter's reply about the stand 12/10/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Tue, October 16, 2018 23:19:35

FW: Spectator stand removal from Newbury Football Ground

12 October 2018 15:58 85 KB

From: Nick Carter

To: deputychair@ncfg.uk

Dear Mr Stewart

Thank you for your email dated 22nd September and please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

I have set out my responses below your questions.

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards

Nick


From: deputychair@ncfg.uk

Sent: 22 September 2018 00:40

To: Nick Carter Nick.Carter@westberks.gov.uk

Cc: Graham.Jones@westberks.gov.uk; James.Fredrickson@westberks.gov.uk; Bob.Sharples@sportengland.org; richard.benyon.mp@parliament.uk; editor@newburynews.co.uk; fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk; advisor@ncfg.uk; chair@ncfg.uk; press@ncfg.uk; treasurer@ncfg.uk; secretary@ncfg.uk

Subject: Spectator stand removal from Newbury Football Ground


Dear Nick,

I am the deputy chair of Newbury Community Football Group and this letter is for your attention, but I have also copied it to other interested parties for openness, clarity and publication (please see cc addresses).

Regarding the application by Hungerford Town FC to demolish the large, seated, covered spectator stand (which has been a permanent structure for around 25 years) at Newbury Football Ground, Faraday Road, please can you read the background and ownership-related statements below and then respond to the questions which follow?

Background

NCFG’s primary objective is to save the football ground and retain it for its purpose of organised football matches at the higher levels of league football where a top quality playing surface, pitch & perimeter fencing, floodlights, changing rooms, WCs, clubhouse and spectator stands are required. Removal of the stand greatly reduces the ground’s ability to function and is effectively a "change of use". Note that it achieved a higher ground grading than F (National League System step 5) before the council removed the tenant’s security of tenure, thus excluding the tenant club from joining high leagues and there is still no planned site development for some years to come.

Ownership

a. Newbury Town FC had the stand erected before they folded in 1995 after which time the ground assets remained the property of the council.

b. AFC Newbury FC leased the ground from the council from 1996 until they folded in 2007 and again the ground assets remained in the council’s ownership.

c. Newbury FC leased the ground from 2008 until 2018 and when they were evicted in June, the ground assets still belonged to the council, as landlord.

d. The various council’s football club leases mention the stand as the landlord’s asset.

e. West Berks Council lists the land and permanent buildings on its asset register.

f. There has never been any mention of the stand belonging to our NCFG partners Newbury FC in previous correspondence since NCFG formed in late 2015.

g. Cllr Anthony Pick (chair) at the recent Newbury Town Council planning meeting on 10 September stated that WBC owns the stand.

There is no evidence that WBC owns the stand. It is considered a tenant’s fixture and for which the Council has no responsibility. A previous tenant paid for the stand and acquired planning permission for its erection and a subsequent tenant took on responsibility for that fixture. Prior to leaving the ground, the last tenant offered the fixture to another club and the Council will not prevent such arrangements providing relevant planning consents have been achieved.

h. WBC’s Asset of Community Value lists the stand as an integral part of the protected ground, also covered by cultural facility and green infrastructure policies.

It is permissible for the stand to be taken by another party providing such action does not constitute a disposal. The stand is not being sold but we understand gifted to Hungerford and in this context the Council is happy with the stand being passed to Hungerford. Overall the Council is comfortable that matters relating to Planning, Policy and the ACV are covered off.

i. WBC’s response to NCFG’s stage 2 complaint in late August stated that there were no plans to demolish any part of the facility.

That is correct. The stand as a moveable tenant’s fixture is being dismantled and relocated. Dismantling is covered under ‘demolition’ in Planning terms and similarly HTFC will need a planning consent to re-erect the stand. Reference the buildings on site, no demolition application has been drawn up and none has been requested.

j. The above statement was made round about the same time as HTFC’s notification to demolish.

As stated, the stand as a tenant’s fixture is being dismantled and relocated (the latter subject to Planning consent) and the buildings on site are being left.

k. The prior notification in early September by HTFC to demolish suddenly changed on 29 September to no longer needing planning involvement which WBC was fully aware of.

Nothing suddenly changed. Officers in WBC Property Services were contacted by HTFC saying the latter had been offered the stand by the outgoing tenant. Officers acknowledged this but explained to HTFC that they must be responsible for finding out what permissions might be required in order for the stand to be removed and similarly be responsible for confirming what permissions should be required if HTFC seek to re-erect the strand. HTFC did this of their own volition, followed due process as advised and was granted the requisite consent via a formal Planning process.

l. WBC no longer receives rent from NFC and it would appear that WBC is about to sell a protected asset.

The Council is not receiving rent nor is it selling any asset.

Questions

Given the above statements, please can you present proof to NCFG of:

1. who owns the stand and why/how it may have changed hands?

The stand is a tenant’s fixture and which was offered by the outgoing club to another organisation. The Council did not pay for the stand nor did it seek permission for its erection and as such is happy to see the stand be dismantled providing due Planning process has been followed.

2. who has the authority to allow it to be dismantled and why?

As a tenant’s fixture, the out-going club was free to offer the stand to another organisation. The Council as Planning Authority has the authority to grant or otherwise planning permission for the stand to come down and indeed to be re-erected elsewhere so long as such re-erection lies within the LPA’s jurisdiction. A planning application was put in by HTFC, the application was determined on its own merits and permission was granted.

3. who is selling or releasing the stand and for how much?

Previous tenant is releasing the stand and the Council is not benefitting financially from the removal.

4. who has been in contact with HTFC, NFC or their representatives regarding the demolition?

As set out above in point K. and in Question 2, HTFC contacted WBC about the stand and similarly HTFC contacted WBC Planning about relevant consents.

5. the council’s intent to replace the stand, should it be removed.

The Council will not be replacing the stand should other parties take it away.

We have around 2000 local supporters through our online and paper petitions, around a 100 of whom attended our recent public consultation, who support NCFG’s efforts to enhance the ground for future use. They are all voting, West Berks constituents and would be keen to know what the ground’s landlord/building owner has to say, as would the Football Association, Sport England and HTFC (who regrettably find themselves in the centre of this controversy).

Your comments are noted.

To conclude, we believe that the stand cannot be touched until these questions have been answered with proper evidence by WBC so, as their main spokesperson on this matter, thank you in anticipation of your timely, full reply.

So long as any removal is not a financial transaction between parties, the Council is happy to see the stand dismantled and usefully re-erected elsewhere (subject to the requisite planning consent).

Yours sincerely,

John Stewart

NCFG Deputy Chair

www.ncfg.uk

deputychair@ncfg.uk

07940 892407







FOI from WBC on stand demolition 10/10/18

NewsPosted by NCFG Info Tue, October 16, 2018 22:59:21
We asked who was involved in organising the stand demolition and WBC sent us an email trail of officers who were liasing with Newbury FC and Hungerford Town FC officials. WBC say they don't own it, so are allowing Newbury FC to sell it to Hungerford Town FC.
Read the details from the reply on 05/10/18 here

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