Dear Mr Morgan
We have now received the following e-mail from the Chief Executive of West Berkshire Council, in response to the issues you raised regarding the football pitch.
With best wishes (for Richard Benyon MP)
Ref Mr Morgan’s queries about the Council’s ability to use the football pitch for general sports use and the decision making process behind that, I would comment as follows:
1. General sports use including football.
From a Planning point of view the Council are not required to consult on the Council’s wish to make the playing field available for wider public sports use. The pitch is not being altered in terms of size, surface and maintenance, all of which could be Planning matters but here are not applicable. The asset is being taken back in hand by the Council as land owner and we are free to increase the level and type of sports use should we wish to.
2. Decision making process.
The decision making process leading to where we are now started back in 2016 when we met with Mr Morgan and others on April 18th 2016 and at that meeting made clear the Council would not be entering into a new lease with the football club but would consider a one year lease extension as requested by Mr Morgan and others. In the end we agreed to a two year lease extension which terminated in June this year. As Mr Morgan is aware that decision making process included myself, elected Members and Council officers from Legal Services and Property Services. Before the lease expired in June this year the same bodies considered the best way for the Council to take back control of the asset and have it managed for general sports access, a process which the Council was perfectly entitled to manage internally.
Mr Morgan also makes a general comment about the ACV status of the old football ground. This status has the potential to trigger a mandatory process which is beyond the Council’s control and must be followed by the Council; there is no question of the Council not recognising the status and following due process. The significance of the ACV status is that should the Council dispose of the asset in the future, any individual or group (including Newbury Community Football Group) may put in a commercial bid to acquire the asset once the Council has declared its intention to dispose of the site. The Council will as a matter of course make this declaration and at that point any organisation or individual wishing to put in a bid has six months in which to do so. As per current legislation, the Council is required to consider all submitted bids but is not obliged to accept any of them.