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Conservative councillor calls for Newbury's Faraday Road football ground to be used for organised football

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A CONSERVATIVE West Berkshire councillor has called for the Faraday Road football pitch to be used for football if the clubhouse is demolished.

West Berkshire Council has submitted plans to knock down the derelict clubhouse and replace it with more pay-and-display car parking spaces, while converting the rest of the ground into an open recreation space – at a cost of £191,000.

This would be until the council gets the go-ahead for its proposed regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate, with the site redeveloped with flats.

Faraday Road football ground (46329930)
Faraday Road football ground (46329930)

Currently the pitch is earmarked to stay as a grass area and to operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, for all types of sport.

However, Conservative councillor Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) has called for the pitch to be available in the evenings and at weekends for organised football, run by the Newbury Community Football Group (NCFG).

Mr Beck remains in favour of the council’s plan to demolish the clubhouse, labelling it an “eyesore” and “unsafe.”

Speaking in last Wednesday’s West Berkshire Council western area planning committee meeting, when plans to convert the site into an open recreation space were deferred, Mr Beck said he saw “no reason” why NCFG shouldn’t be able to share the site, using the lighting, portable goals and marking out pitches.

He said: “I have in mind autumn and winter evenings – in particular this is a period of time when the general public are less likely to use the facility and yet it would be valuable time for in particular young footballers to carry out some training.

“Why not let NCFG use this facility provided they’re prepared to pay the running cost?

“I’m in favour of this application providing there’s genuine cooperation with NCFG.”

Mr Beck also called for toilet facilities to be provided on the site, with the closest facilities in The Wharf car park.

NCFG chairman Paul Morgan said the most important thing was “to get the ground to be used for organised football again”.

The group has put forward proposals to the council to reopen the site for football at a cost of £27,000, with the existing clubhouse fenced off and other on-site structures dismantled and removed, while temporary toilets and a spectator barrier would be installed.

It also has its own planning application waiting to be heard to redevelop the ground for football.

Mr Morgan continued: “All we want is a conversation with the decision makers to agree a sensible approach going forward.

“He [Mr Beck] is right, he said the council needs to work with NCFG, and we’re not seeing any sight of that.”

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