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Fence protest by Newbury town councillors at Faraday Road football ground

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Newbury town councillors are furious with West Berkshire Council which has sent in contractors to pull down a fence around the disused Faraday Road football ground.

They temporarily stopped work from happening at the site, claiming the council did not have planning permission to do so.

"They are behaving no better than the worst type of developer that has a protected tree on its site and decides to chop the tree down anyway and apologise afterwards," said Vaughan Miller (Lib Dem, East Fields)

But the council's planners said they did not need permission to remove the old fencing and instructed contractors to carry on removing it.

The area is earmarked for open recreational use while its long-term future is determined as part of the long-running attempts to develop the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE).

"We had large concerns of removing the fencing at the canal end that’s protecting the area’s special scientific interest, which is the canal corridor," said Mr Miller. "Then to hear they’re demolishing is just shocking.

"The fencing is solid. If they want to use it as a recreation space, removing the fencing disallows any ball games completely because we don’t want to see any balls or possibly children falling in the canal because there’s no fencing protecting that area."

The protest is the latest in a long line of objections to the ground being closed for community football use. West Berkshire Council is pushing for football provision in the town to be moved to Newbury Rugby Club at Monks Lane.

"We have a massive shortage of pitches," said Mr Miller. "We have football managers coming to us saying we can’t find football pitches, tearing their hair out.

"Some have to go as far as Theale.

"And the council has kept this out of use for the last three years."

Steve Masters (Green, Speen) said: "The good thing is that we have paused the removal of the fence that borders the SSSI. Like much of the LRIE football debacle, it seems short sighted."

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