Sports clubs and councils take on responsibility for outdoor sports facilities

Ten bowls clubs in Bridgend county borough have taken on the responsibility for the self-management of 11 bowls greens with similar arrangements being progressed with football, rugby and cricket clubs.

The bowls clubs have agreed short-term tenancies while leases are being completed.

A number of football, rugby and cricket clubs are due to take on similar short-term tenancies wherever possible while long-term leases are being finalised. Grants of up to £10,000 are being made available from the local authority for clubs to help purchase maintenance equipment.

In total six transfers to sports clubs, including Bridgend Athletic Club, Maesteg Park FC and Rest Bay Sports are due to be finalised in the coming months while seven town and community councils are progressing transfers for eight playing fields and/or pavilions. They include Coity Higher Community Council, Laleston Community Council and Pencoed Town Council.

As of the end of October 2020, sports clubs and town and community councils have expressed their interest in self-managing 53 outdoor sports facilities and park pavilions across the county borough. The county borough has around 60 clubs and 530 teams.

In total 29 expressions of interest have been approved with business cases being developed, 10 informal expressions of interest have been received with discussions ongoing and 11 transfers have been approved with heads of terms or leases being finalized – two have already been completed – Bryncethin Playing Fields by Bryncethin RFC and Pencoed Pavilion by Pencoed Town Council.

Recently, leisure consultants Just Solutions were appointed to help the council develop strategies for the larger parks of Newbridge Fields, Maesteg Welfare Park and Aberfields, known as the Planka. The consultants are due to hold meetings with all stakeholders shortly.

Earlier this year a series of new measures designed to bolster the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) package were introduced to help sports clubs, town and community councils and other organisations take on more responsibility for outdoor sports facilities.

It included:

  • a commitment to replenish the £1million CAT Fund as and when necessary, subject to the availability of capital resources, to encourage transfers and meet demand
  • Developing a programme of sports pitch improvement and drainage capital grants valued at £5,000 to £25,000 in consultation with the governing bodies to ensure that prioritised sites are fit for purpose based upon independent condition assessments
  • Establishing pitch maintenance equipment grants to provide capital funding valued from £5,000 up to £10,000 for town and community councils and sports clubs who complete transfers to assist with the purchase of equipment to enable the self-management of associated green spaces

Bowls clubs will also qualify for a one-off grant of £5,000 for each bowls facility.

Bridgend County Borough Council’s cabinet member for communities Councillor Richard Young said: “We are continuing to progress discussions with sports clubs, and town and community councils during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the last few months this has involved holding outdoor meetings in line with Welsh Government guidelines or via online and telephone conference calls.

“In order to progress the multiple transfers in the pipeline in a more timely manner, we are also strengthening the CAT team which will soon include a CAT surveyor.

“We would like to thank all those who are working with us as we seek to ensure the management of outdoors sports facilities is sustainable in the long-term.”

Before starting the asset transfer process, Bridgend County Borough Council managed 39 playing fields which includes 40 pavilions, 43 football pitches, 25 rugby pitches, 14 bowling greens and six cricket squares.

In the summer, Maesteg Town Council launched a £50,000 Community Asset Transfer Support Grant aimed at helping sports clubs in the Llynfi Valley progress self-management arrangements. It involved £30,000 from the town council and £20,000 from BCBC.

Sports clubs could apply for a maximum capital grant contribution of £5,000 for each site with consideration also be given to applications up to £10,000 on a case-by-case basis particularly where the project could demonstrate wider community benefit.

Funding for the sports clubs within the Maesteg and Caerau areas is due to be allocated shortly.