Plans to enclose historic Pontypool rugby grounds could be overturned by 1920s covenant

First published in News by

PONTYOOL RFC rugby chiefs have appealed for residents to back plans to enclose its vandalised grounds, after they suffered a setback which could see the proposal overturned by a 1920s covenant.

Pooler lodged and application last month to put up a 2.4m mesh fence around its fields after seats were ripped out of the stand, needles left on the field, the grandstand de-faced, and the grounds hit by numerous arsons.

The historic club was again vandalised last month despite the installation of a £13,000 CCTV system.

Pooler hoped its plans could be given the go ahead this month, paving the way for the fence to go up at Pontypool Park at the start of the season.

The security fence could also help the club in its bid to obtain an A licence and return to the Premiership following its relegation in 2012.

But it has now emerged the fence plans could be overturned because of town covenant, which means the club has no right to dictate what they do at Pontypool Park.

The club is now planning to embark on a consultation exercise with the public to find out if they are in favour of the fence.

Pontypool RFC corporate director Ben Jeffreys said the process could last up to seven months.

He said: "We would certainly encourage the club’s supporters to support this cause as much as they can."

The club also plan to undertake other renovation work at its home base, but Mr Jeffreys said the club was hesitant to proceed without protection from the continued problems plaguing it.

He also thanked Torfaen council and Lynne Neagle AM for their assistance so far,

Pontypool fan Bryan Pritchard endorsed the fencing plans but suggested bushes and trees could help soften its appearance.

Mr Pritchard, 72, told the Free Press: “I think it is a must for the town of Pontypool.

“Pontypool is best known probably for its rugby club and its Japanware.

“It would be a crying shame to let the rugby club die.”

A Torfaen council spokesman said: “Pontypool Park was transferred for the use of the public in the 1920s by the Pontypool Park Estate. As part of the transfer, a covenant was established that guarantees the public access and use of the park. In addition, the park was to be held on trust 'for the use of the public'.

"The council has sought counsel advice to establish what this means in relation to Pontypool RFC.

“It has been advised that the granting of a lease which affords exclusive occupation to the club, and the erection of a fence which prevents access to the grounds, would amount to both a breach of the covenant and the trust contained within the council’s title documents to the land.

"Therefore, it is not currently within the council’s power to lease the ground solely to Pontypool RFC, or allow the grounds to be enclosed, unless the terms of the covenant and the trust are varied.”

Pontypool RFC said, most recently, a door leading to the club’s iconic scoreboard had been smashed and the lights turned on inside.

CCTV footage of the incident discovered on July 31 is now being examined.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101.

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