Thu, 22 Oct 2020
THE controversial decision to evict Newbury Football Club and demolish their old clubhouse has cost the taxpayer more than £225,000 so far, writes local democracy reporter Nathan Hyde.
West Berkshire Council kicked the non-league club out in 2018, to clear the way for the London Road Industrial Estate development.
The ground in Faraday Road, which was home to Newbury FC for 55 years, has been vacant since they left after the council’s redevelopment plans suffered a major setback in 2018.
The council says it is “looking at options to build a new football facility” in Newbury and it will reopen the ground as “recreational space for community use” in spring 2021, until the regeneration gets under way.
But it has also hired contractors to demolish the clubhouse, saying it is “in a dangerous condition and beyond repair”.
At a meeting of the council’s executive on Thursday, Ross Mackinnon (Con, Bradfield), executive member for economic development, revealed how much the project has cost so far.
He said: “The total cost of the closure of Faraday Road football ground is £228,000.
“That includes the cost of demolition and the imminent work to convert the area into public open space (£191,000) – that’s the vast majority of that cost.
“There’s also the study on loss of football provision and the loss of revenue from Newbury Football Club, in terms of their activity and pitch hire.”
Mr Mackinnon went on to compare the cost of the closure to the cost of making the clubhouse fit for purpose again.
He continued: “It’s also worth noting we should compare that to the estimated cost we had in 2018 just to make the clubhouse fit for reasonable reoccupation, which was £208,000.
“It compares rather favourably to that as well.”
Newbury FC currently play their games at Henwick Worthy Sports Field in Thatcham.