PROGRESS WELCOMED BY THE COUNCIL
At a meeting last night of the Council Committee to discuss the club’s position, Councillor Simon Bound, the Portfolio Holder for Communities, hailed the significant and welcome progress that had been made with the issuing of the Joint Statement.
The Joint Statement indicates the Hampshire FA (HFA) support for Winklebury to become the home of the club at the current Step 3 level. No date has yet been set for this to take place, but with the planned construction of a 3G artificial grass pitch on the existing grass pitch area, the target is September 2018. With ground security progressed for the future, the Community Club will as a priority seek to confirm arrangements for 2017/18 season.
There are a number of actions that need to be taken before this is turned into reality. As the owner of the football facilities, the Council would need to formally endorse the arrangements and terms would have to be drawn up. All the indications are very positive on this front. The Community Club will communicate with supporters on what this means as further discussion between the Council and HFA take place. Another important step will be consultation with Winklebury residents to discuss what is involved, what benefits will come with the Community Club’s presence and to listen to, and address, local concerns. Initial soundings have seen a positive local reaction.
The adaptations at Winklebury to meet step 3 ground grading standards can be achieved relatively easily and would need to be funded by the Community Club. The thinking is for two covered areas for standing and seating of spectators to be installed. These would be a low level, pre-fabricated design, tailored to the Winklebury footprint. Whether temporary or permanent spectator areas were installed, there would need to be planning approval.
Councillors on the Committee were universally supportive of the Joint Statement, and would recommend that the Council should work for its implementation, support the development of the Community Club and said the Council should urge people to become members. We aim to be launching the membership application process next week.
Questions were asked about the financial position of the current and future club. In response, it was made clear that raising funds to support this season’s playing budget and the viability of the Community Club were huge and pressing challenges. A campaign to raise funds will be launched shortly under the banner of ‘Survive and Thrive’. In the meantime, anyone who wishes to help with the fund raising should email Steve Williams on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Council Committee also agreed to continue to investigate within their files any information about the ‘Camrose covenant’ raised by supporters. It was pointed out that the involvement of the Council at various times, most recently with North Common, should shed light on the issue.
Joint Statement by Hampshire Football Association and Basingstoke Town Community Football Club
Following a constructive meeting with representatives of our respective organisations we agreed to issue this joint statement about taking forward football collaboratively at the Winklebury Complex. The points in the statement need to be discussed and formally agreed with the Borough Council.
The meeting provided a good opportunity to promote understanding about each other’s strategic objectives and challenges. Recognising that we shared a number of objectives such as increasing football participation and quality of performance, we agreed that we should work in partnership to secure benefits at Winklebury for the greater good of football and the community.
- Basingstoke Town Community FC (BTCFC) would support the proposal Hampshire Football Association (HFA) have presented to the Borough Council for the transfer of Winklebury Stadium facilities from the council to HFA on a long lease, including plans to deliver an artificial grass pitch (AGP) on the site of the existing grass pitch. The need to make urgent progress in the asset transfer and the delivery was recognised in the interests of HFA, BTCFC, the Council and the Community.
- HFA supported the move of BTCFC to Winklebury as their home ground at the current level (step 3) Southern League Premier and would approve the necessary ground improvements to secure the ground grading standard. BTCFC would play first team matches on the AGP and would use the facility for training of their teams and academy.
- HFA would put together the funding package for the 3G pitch and manage the construction / delivery, bookings, maintenance revenues and sinking fund. Charging policy would be in line with Football Foundation to ensure affordability.
- BTCFC would fund the necessary ground improvements and maintain facilities to a high standard. The tenure arrangements agreed with HFA would need to preserve BTCFC eligibility for grants for spectator and communal facilities. HFA who were familiar with similar arrangements at other sites would assist in achieving this end.
- HFA recognised the potential need for some judicious and modest expansion of the current footprint to enable BTCFC to accommodate some improvements and a multi-functional Community facility to support the provision of hospitality, the needs of BTCFC embracing its community objectives, and use by the community itself. Funding for this would be a matter for BTCFC to take forward.
- The requirements of other regular users of the AGP were recognised such as Basingstoke Town Ladies FC, local schools and Winklebury Wizards. As was the need for priority consideration for HFA courses. HFA and BTCFC would work collaboratively to develop a strategic programme of usage which could be adapted as necessary to meet specific requirements. BTCFC’s training needs would bring greater usage outside peak periods.
- HFA and BTCFC identified the need for an overarching management arrangement for the site that protected the asset, met the needs of the local community and HFA and BTCFC.
HFA and BTCFC recognise that regular dialogue and meetings will need to take place between themselves and the council to discuss details and ensure progress. Both HFA and BTCFC appreciate the need for two-way communication with local representatives and residents to inform them about proposals, community benefits (not just linked to football) and listen to, and address, concerns.
Strategy & Projects
Basingstoke Town Community FC