At the Full Marlborough Town Council Meeting on Monday December 14, the decision to give the go ahead for the third ruby pitch made by the Town Council’s Amenities and Public Spaces Committee meeting on Monday November 16 was overturned.
After a very long discussion the Town Council proposed setting up a working party to examine a fair resolution in full public consultation and considering the legalities. The working party would aim to ensure fair solutions for all users of the Common and to preserve the character of the Common for future generations.
Due to the expansion and great success of Marlborough Rugby Football club (MRFC) a third pitch is required for the training of hundreds of youngsters who attend either MRFC and MYFC (Marlborough Youth Football Club). The pitch would be created by levelling the ground and laying 4 inches of top soil which will be seeded. The cost of around £35,000 would be borne by MRFC.
However, there has been considerable opposition from many different groups and users of the Common. Over 100 people attended the zoom meeting to take the opportunity to present their views to the council.
The environmental group, Transition Marlborough object to the loss of a wild area for plants and insects. Marlborough Model Flying Club and the Park Run are worried a third pitch will curtail their activities. Individuals and dog walkers are concerned that the third pitch would fundamentally change the nature of the Common. The common became a treasured space in lockdown.
There were also concerns about parking on the Common if a third pitch/training ground results in more visitors’ cars.
For some who do not oppose a third pitch the siting of it in the middle of the Common at right angles to the current pitches is a problem and could prevent other events such as the Civil War re-enactment being held on the Common. A preferred pitch, by many, including the Town Council Groundsman, Nigel Weatherly, is one situated in a parallel line to the current pitches along Frees Avenue. However, according to MRFC this would cost significantly more.
Cllr Fogg said he had “been disturbed by the great number of people who were unhappy with the original decision” to give the go ahead for the third pitch and that it was not a decision made on behalf of the full Town Council. He believed the legalities involved in the Town Council being guardians of the Common and the right of the public to roam freely on the common had not been considered. “Right of access takes precedence over all other activities.”
Members of the community have rights to roam freely across most areas of the Common, including those areas used by by MRFC, MYFC, Model Flying Club. However, this does not apply to the large area of the Common occupied by and leased to the Golf Club.
Cllr Fogg said that he believed a working party, and a full public consultation, was the only way to come to a fair solution. There were so many complex issues and a strategy for the whole Common was needed. This proposal was passed by 11 votes to 5.