Rugby club kicked out of changing rooms it’s used for more than 60 years
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
A rugby club with more than 400 members claims it has been “kicked out” of the changing rooms it has used for more than 60 years.
The club is now having to pay for its senior and youth teams to use other changing facilities, but says it cannot afford to do so for the more than 300 boys and girls who play for its teams under the age of 16.
Alan Hiatt, chairman of Croesyceiliog RFC, in Cwmbran said: “We’ve been kicked out of the changing rooms at the Woodland Road Social Centre and they have been our changing rooms since the building opened 64 years ago.”
Hwb Torfaen, the youth charity which runs the building, has said it had given the rugby club six weeks notice in October that it would no longer be able to use the changing rooms, but allowed it to continue to use the rooms until the end of February.
Charity chief executive Dan Oliver said it has had to close the changing rooms so work to refurbish the centre, which he said has been grant funded through the National Lottery, can get under way.
He also said he has supported the club through a grant application to the Welsh Rugby Union for funding towards new demountable changing rooms, to be placed on site.
Mr Oliver had said he was awaiting the outcome of an application to the WRU, but the Local Democracy Reporting Service has been shown a letter dated Tuesday, February 14, from the governing body to Mr Oliver, confirming an application was unsuccessful.
Mr Oliver said he had been unaware of that letter, but that a contingency plan, including a potential application for Welsh Government funding, will be in put in place.
Croesyceiliog, whose first team play in the WRU National League 2 East, will have to use other changing rooms at Northfield for this Saturday’s home fixture with Oakdale.
Club secretary Bob Deakin said the Northfield changing rooms will have to be used as a “stop gap” until the end of the season, but, with 10 senior and youth team games remaining, the cost of hiring the changing rooms, at up to £71, is unsustainable.
He said: “We will have to go over to Northfield but there is no storage there so we will have to carry the post protectors and all the water and ourselves, and the other teams will have to walk over to our field, which is some distance.”
The club secretary said it was hopeful the council could ensure the continued use of the changing room until the end of the season, but was then told in late February by the Hwb that the rooms are being decommissioned.
He said: “All of a sudden we had an email say they were decommissioning the boilers. Those boilers have been there since Noah was a sea scout.
“The Hwb have said we want you out from there.”
Mr Deakin and Mr Hiatt acknowledged they aren’t aware of a written agreement stating the club has use of the changing rooms but said they had rejected demands to vacate the changing rooms as they wanted Torfaen Borough Council to investigate.
The local authority had been responsible for the centre but as part of council-wide £11 million savings drive in 2014 agreed to transfer it to a community trust, including the local Croesyceiliog and Llanyrafon Community Council.
However as the trust struggled to meet the costs of the building, Hwb Torfaen, which works with disadvantaged young people in Blaenavon and Cwmbran, took it over three years ago.
Mr Oliver said it has worked with partners to provide new padel and 3G courts and pitches at the centre. He said: “Four months ago we agreed six weeks notice. They had to vacate (the changing rooms) last week, this has come as no shock.
“I see the position now is we should all be working together to get better facilities for the rugby club and we more than appreciate the inconvenience.”
Torfaen Borough Council was approached for comment.
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