Bridgend News: More clubs urged to take over management of sports facilities

More sports clubs and groups are being urged to come forward to take on the running of pavilions, playing fields and pitches across Bridgend county borough.

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Community Asset Transfer (CAT) programme sees local organisations take over responsibility for self-managing facilities, helping to protect them for future generations.

Many local clubs and town and community councils have already expressed an interest in CATs, with agreements at various stages of development.

Bryncethin RFC became the first sports club to complete a CAT deal with Bridgend County Borough Council in 2018, taking over the ownership of their playing field and pavilion from the local authority.

As well as agreeing a 35-year lease, the rugby club also secured more than £500,000 of funding from a variety of sources including £165,125 from the council to transform their dilapidated pavilion into a modern community centre for the whole of Bryncethin to enjoy.

In December 2020, Rest Bay Sports which represents FC Porthcawl and Porthcawl United, signed a five-year lease for the playing fields and pavilion at Rest Bay. The clubs had been working with the council for more than three years, setting up a company limited by guarantee and developing ambitious plans to extend and refurbish the pavilion.

Bridgend County Borough Council allocated the company just over £45,000 towards the cost of redeveloping the pavilion and a further £10,000 for pitch maintenance equipment from its £1m CAT Fund. Work is now progressing on improving and extending the pavilion.

Last month, the council’s cabinet approved the business case from Cefn Cribwr Athletic Club to take over the management of the bowls pavilion and green, two rugby pitches and tennis courts at Cae Gof Playing Fields.

The club has also been awarded funding of nearly £160,000 from the council’s CAT and Change Management funds to extend the bowls pavilion and bring rugby changing facilities up to Welsh Rugby Union standards, as well as improving drainage on the pitches and purchasing maintenance equipment.

Cefn Cribwr FC has expressed an interest in completing a separate lease for the main pavilion and two football pitches and discussions are ongoing.

The county borough has about 60 clubs and 530 teams that use the pavilions and playing fields maintained by the council’s Green Spaces Section. To date, all of these facilities have expressions of interests for self-management from sports clubs and town and community councils with 55 CATs currently being progressed at various stages.

Town and community councils are also actively participating in the CAT Programme with transfers of pavilions and playing fields presently under discussion with Coity Higher Community Council, Cornelly, Laleston Community Council, Llangynwyd Lower Community Council, Newcastle Higher Community Council, and Porthcawl Town Council.

In total, 30 expressions of interest have been approved with business cases or financial plans being developed, 10 informal expressions of interest have been received with discussions ongoing and 12 transfers have been approved with heads of terms or leases being finalised – three have already been completed – Bryncethin Playing Fields (Bryncethin RFC); Pencoed Pavilion (Pencoed Town Council); and Rest Bay Playing Fields (Rest Bay Sports).

Pencoed Town Council have worked in partnership with the council to refurbish the pavilion at Pencoed Recreation Ground which was closed as a result of Storm Emma in March 2018 and re-opened in 2020 after more than £120,000 was invested in updating facilities.

Pencoed Town Council are also in discussions to take over the responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of the rugby and football pitches at the site.

In addition, 10 bowls clubs have taken over the day-to-day maintenance of their bowls greens either under a lease or tenancy at will (while a lease is being finalised).

Strategic reviews of the council’s larger public parks at Newbridge Fields, Maesteg Welfare Park and Aberfields, known as the “Planka”, are also being progressed to inform future policy and investment decisions.

Meetings are underway with key stakeholders such as the local town and community councils, and contact is being be made with the sports clubs that use these facilities.

Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “It’s brilliant that so many organisations are working with the council to improve and preserve these facilities for their communities.

“Asset transfers enable clubs to make improvements to pavilions and pitches, while helping the council to ensure grassroots sport can continue to thrive in our communities.

“It has also enabled us to invest more in our sports facilities by providing financial assistance for organisations who are committed to completing transfers. We want to help clubs and town and community councils manage and improve sports facilities, and ensure they are sustainable in the long-term.

“Since the policy was introduced, the response from sports clubs in the county borough has been exceptional with a clear openness and desire to work with the council. Many thanks to those teams who have engaged with us and worked with us to prepare plans.

We need more groups and organisations to come forward and work with us on developing CATs to help keep facilities open and available. I would urge any clubs or organisations who are interested to get in touch with us – we have staff ready to assist.

“While coronavirus has had an impact upon the process, it remains ongoing and we are continuing to work with clubs and town and community councils throughout the pandemic.”