Posted on: Tuesday 24 July 2018
Torfaen councillors have expressed their unanimous support for Pontypool RFC and their wish to continue talks to enable the club to remain at its historic home in Pontypool Park.
Councillors voted to support an urgent report
submitted by council leader Anthony Hunt after the club announced last week that they intended to leave the park at a public meeting last Tuesday.
The report recommended that the Leader and relevant council officers should seek urgent talks with the club while work should start on a wider strategy for the park and start seeking views of park users and other key groups.
The council will also explore options for officers from its Neighbourhoods team to prioritise cleansing of the park and for community safety officers to work with the police and the club to tackle vandalism, littering and antisocial behaviour in and around the ground.
Cllr Hunt reiterated his call for the council and club to engage in further discussions to overcome the issues raised by the club and to fully understand the club’s intentions.
Cllr Hunt said: “I thank the council for their support today, which I hope goes some way to demonstrating to the people of Pontypool and beyond our overwhelming support for the club and the huge contribution it has made to the history and heritage of our borough.
“We would welcome further discussions with the club to fully understand their future intentions - I have huge respect for Ben and Peter Jeffreys and what they have done to get the club thriving again. Ben Jeffreys said last week that there was a ‘glimmer of hope’ and I hope today’s statement of intent will reassure the club, its owners, supporters and the people of Pontypool that while the issues at the Park are not straight forward they are not insurmountable. We believe we can work to find a way through the situation for the benefit of the club and the park.”
The council has not refused any application from the club for a fence or any other facilities at the ground. It has offered advice to the club on planning and legal issues. Should an application be received setting out detailed proposals for the ground then the council can begin the steps needed which would include:
- A significant public consultation that meets relevant legal requirements
- Seek preliminary views from the Charity Commission who will also need to formally approve any final amendment to the Trust Scheme
- Seek the views of organisations such as Cadw who have an interest as Pontypool Park is a listed heritage park
- Consultation with covenant holders who will have to give their consent to any amendments
Cllr Hunt said: "The situation at the park is complex, not because the council wants it to be, but there are legal limits on our power to agree things in the park without the permission of others, such as the covenant vendors, Charities Commission and other park users.
"Any agreement that does not comply with the necessary legal requirements would not benefit the club nor could it be something the council can be party to. We are willing to roll up our sleeves and deal as promptly as possible with any application."
None of these steps tie the hands of the Planning Committee to determine any application or over rule any legal requirements on the council. Any solution would need approval of the covenant vendors, the Charities Commission and could face other objections from individuals or organisations.