Discussions between Bridgend County Borough Council, Bridgend Athletic RFC and Bridgend Sports RFC about working in partnership to assist with maintenance on the pavilions at Newbridge Fields have received the backing of a Welsh rugby star.
Essential building works have already been completed by the local authority on the New Pavilion and Bandstand Pavilion, which were in a poor state of repair.
New wall cladding and improved shower room facilities, including tiled floors, have been installed at the New Pavilion and the exterior has been decorated. At the Bandstand Pavilion, a new roof has been installed.
Janine Nightingale, Director of Communities, said: “Because of increasing budget pressures, Bridgend County Borough Council is actively working with sports clubs and town and community councils to help manage and maintain facilities and services that may otherwise become lost.
“The council has a long history of investing in facilities designed to help people lead healthier and more active lives, ranging from the provision of new all-weather sports pitches, programmes designed to help people of all ages take up more sport or through delivering the likes of the £4.2m Bridgend Life Centre, the £1.8m Brackla Sports Centre, the £500,000 improvements at the Indoor Bowls Centre, new all-weather sports pitches and more.
“In recent years, we have had to develop alternative ways of working in partnership alongside local clubs and other organisations in order to maintain and provide local sports facilities, and I am delighted that discussions are underway with Bridgend Athletic RFC and Bridgend Sports RFC.
“This partnership will form an important part of our continuing work on the development of a long-term plan for Newbridge Fields which is aiming to deliver all-new sports facilities.”
Bridgend Athletic RFC Chairman Stuart Morris said: “Bridgend Athletic RFC has welcomed the improvements to the New Pavilion and looks forward to our proactive Newbridge Fields Sub-Committee continuing to work in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council on the proposed future development and improvement of facilities.
“We are particularly encouraged that the council shares our vision for potential all-new sports facilities at Newbridge Fields, encompassing both gender and disability.”
Wales international and British and Irish Lions player Rhys Webb, who was born in Bridgend, has maintained close links with the club and is one of 60 mini and junior coaches. He said: “For as long as I can remember, Bridgend Athletic Rugby Club has been a huge part of my life.
“It’s where I started my rugby, and it’s where my sons have started their rugby, too. The club is a huge part of so many young people’s lives and I hope that this will continue to be so for a long time yet.
“Although the team have a club house, the changing rooms at our home ground has always been the place we meet and get ready together to go out onto the field as a team.
“To see them in such a state of disrepair is disheartening, especially when I know my sons will not get the use out of the changing rooms as so many of us have over the years, nor will they get the benefit of a place to shelter from the typical Welsh rugby weather – cold, wind and rain.
“New changing rooms would mean so much to all club members, young and old, and would give Bridgend Athletic players a huge sense of pride when playing at our home ground, Newbridge Fields.
“I am now pleased to discover my club has been working hard alongside Bridgend County Borough Council to not only rectify existing facilities, but with a long-term plan to provide Bridgend County Borough with high-standard changing and playing facilities. This will give teams the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with other teams in Wales.”
A spokesman for Bridgend Sports RFC said: “Our club dates back to 1938 and we play on the Bandstand pitch and use the Bandstand changing facilities behind the Halo Centre at Newbridge Fields.
“The Bandstand pitch is synonymous with rugby football in Bridgend County Borough.
“There’s been minimal investment in the Bandstand changing rooms dating back several years. This opportunity, although itself limited, allows for any expenditure to go a little further with utilisation of the combined skill sets of those associated with the club and technical assistance from the council.
“We have over 300 young people playing for the club at all levels, and are host club for girls’ rugby across the county borough. Our ambition is to have modern community facilities fit for the 21st century to support the development of young people, both on and off the field of play.”