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Uncertainty over future of Newbury ground after lease offer rejected

Tory town councillors reject proposal from district council colleagues

Fiona Tomas

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Foul! Newbury Football Club may fold after council backtracks on replacement ground

THE future of Newbury FC's Faraday Road ground is up in the air again after the Conservative-led Newbury Town Council rejected an offer from West Berkshire Council to lease the site.

Town councillors met behind closed doors earlier this week to consider renting the ground – currently occupied by the Faraday road-based club – on a short-term basis.

The ground forms part of the London Road Industrial Estate, which the district council has earmarked for redevelopment. 

This would have not only allowed the club to make more long-term arrangements, but would have made the site available for recreational use, with other community groups to benefiting.

Last week, Conservative district councillor James Fredrickson told the Newbury Weekly News he was “hopeful” that the town council – which he also sits on, representing Victoria ward – would take up the offer.

It was Lib Dem councillor Julian Swift-Hook (Pyle Hill) who proposed that the district council’s offer be accepted. 

But it was in vain as the Conservatives voted the proposal down, despite earlier having heard a presentation about a detached youth worker project from Berkshire Youth representative David Steward. 

Instead, town councillors voted to reject taking on the lease, which Mr Swift-Hook argued was “fundamentally wrong” for the young people of Newbury.  

Speaking after the decision Mr Swift-Hook said: “There was an opportunity for Newbury Town Council to support local sport and to demonstrate its place in the town.

“Youth services in the town was heard from Dave Steward in the meeting.

“This would have been an opportunity to provide for the youngsters in our town, albeit on a temporary basis.”

The current lease on the land expires on June 24, so, as things stand, Newbury FC will have to leave then and find somewhere else to play next season.

See next week’s edition of the Newbury Weekly News for more on this story.

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