Bridgend county council cabinet will meet this week to reconsider the decision to increase sport pitch hire prices by 500% from £50 to £300.
Cabinet members decided upon the new policy last month, as part of the £36m saving budget the council needs to make in four years. The plans have caused an outcry across the towns within in the county and fears of clubs closing linger.
At a special scrutiny meeting last week, opposition council members decided that the proposed plans should be sent back to the cabinet for a review.
Pencoed Rugby Football Club’s chairman, Stephen Davies, described the proposed decision as “draconian” saying it could see clubs across the county close purely because they could not afford the new pitch fees.
He said: “We will obviously try and find the money but being brutally honest, it is impossible, we just cannot find that amount. Due to providing matches to various teams, the club has to hire three pitches per match. Therefore, the new prices will cost the club an extra £30,000 per season. It’s just unsustainable”.
The independent council member for Pencoed and Heol-Y-Cyw, Alex Williams, says sport clubs are the “social hearts of the community” and provide health and well-being to young children and adults alike. He said that in order to minimise the impact these proposals could have, the council must invest more resources into the existing policy- Community Asset Transfer (CAT), which allows clubs the opportunity to up-keep the pavilions and sports ground themselves.
He said: “I think the cabinet will continue with the proposals but they should try and get more resources to get some of the CAT [policies] across the line. Clubs are happy to take on the CAT process but it seems there is such an inordinate length of time to get them over the line and unfortunately unless there is more human resources- I fear these proposals are going to see the light of day before some of these clubs can actually take over the facilities themselves”.
But Stephen Davies said that Bridgend council’s record with CAT policies has been “appalling”. His club’s pavilion is only now being repaired after it was damaged in the storms 2 and a half years ago.
He said: “We are actively looking at applying for the CAT policy for the field but with the history of it, I don’t think it is going to be a swift and painless process unfortunately”.
The final decision will be announced on Wednesday 13 November at 2:30 pm.