A PONTYPOOL community leader warned yesterday that the town's historic rugby club could become an “eyesore” unless the public backs plans to put up a 7ft security fence to protect its grounds.

Pontypool Community Council chairwoman Gaynor James spoke out after Pontypool RFC prepared to consult residents on the security upgrade, which could be overturned by a 1920s covenant.

Pooler chiefs hope the fence will protect the grounds repeatedly targeted by vandals but Torfaen council has indicated the covenant means they have no right to dictate what they do at the open playing fields in Pontypool Park.

But Ms James told the Free Press: “We don’t want to lose the club.

"If it is not fenced off and the club are forced to move out, the grandstand will become an eyesore and will be open for more vandalism.

“In the end it would become dangerous and would become fenced off anyway.

“There is CCTV but vandalism still carries on, if it is fenced off hopefully it will stop.”

Pontypool RFC is planning to sound public opinion on the 2.4m mesh fence in an exercise expected to last several months.

Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle said: “I am working closely with Pontypool RFC and the council to resolve the issues with the park's covenant.

“We are all committed to seeing the club go from strength to strength at the park and regain their place in the Premiership.

“I hope that as many local people as possible will want to get behind the club in its efforts to resolve this matter.”

But not everyone is in favour of the fence proposals, seeking to deter vandals who have ripped out seats from the stand, left needles on the field and been linked to numerous arson attacks.

A reader said: “I cannot believe that Pontypool Rugby Club want to place a 7ft fence around the whole rugby field and terrace at Pontypool Park, as the answer to vandalism, to commit an act of vandalism to Pontypool Park on a massive and unacceptable way.

“Pontypool Park, If I am correct was given for the people of Pontypool, and not to the committee of Pontypool Rugby Club to do with as they wish.”

Pontypool & District Runners secretary Christine Vorres added: “I think the proposals are detrimental to the park.

“So many people use the ground. They don’t have a right to the ground.

“We train on the pitch, lots of people do."

But she did say it would be 'lovely to see Pontypool RFC thrive again'.

"It is tragic that a fence even has to be considered," she added.

“It has to be carefully planned not to encroach too much on the park."

A Torfaen spokeman said: “The council is working with Pontypool RFC to decide on a way forward, however, we cannot break the trust and covenant that is currently in place for Pontypool Park.

“There are means by which we can seek to have the terms of the trust and covenant varied, however, this could take some time.”