I will try to avoid too much reference to COVID-19, other than to say that it has brought its challenges to the project, but these are largely irrelevant when compared to what has been happening in a broader context …
So, what has been done and what is coming up?
Firstly, the work done
Pitches and ditches
Lots of work was done early in the year and to date it seems to have worked with the rugby pitches in excellent condition – just ironic that we can’t appreciate them!
There is still an outstanding issue that we are addressing regarding the flow of water to the north but the secondary drainage that was implemented by Woodward’s in April/May seems to have worked and the ditch work has been a success. The challenge will be if we have the same level of rain as we had at the start of the 2020 and that is why we still must deal with the blockage towards Centrum 100 which we are on with.
The good thing to report is that at the time of writing, the Ox-Hay is flooded but we have five playable pitches at Battlestead Croft which we can access!
Planning Permission for the New Build
It took a while and those who attended the virtual AGM will be aware of some of the frustrations we experienced regarding the planning process, but we got there – and this is what we have permission for
And this is where we were at on Tuesday of last week – completion of the steel framework erection – which hopefully confirms the shape of things to come
The latest plan is that completion will be by the end of June but that will be dependent on the weather and no supply issues (unfortunately lead-times have been impacted by C-19) – but fingers crossed. Hopefully by then life will return to some kind of normality and we will be able to celebrate in style.
Stronger Towns Initiative
Firstly, the disappointing news – we did not get through as a key project (we applied for funding to close the funds gap we had and to implement an All-Weather Pitch), we are a ‘first reserve project’.
Apparently, the metrics used to determine projects have been changed by central government (‘that Pandemic’) – which to a degree I understand but nevertheless still disappointing given the efforts in presenting our case, being told that it was ‘probably the best presentation’, coupled with the notion that the one thing we are all going to need in 2021 and beyond is genuine community facilities. The good thing is that we will deliver that anyway.
The positive aspect was that our project received phenomenal support in terms of whether people approved of the project: over 80% voted ‘strongly or very strongly’ in support of our project, which compared to the next best of just over 20%!!
Unfortunately, the other criteria set by central government carried a heavier weighting – but nevertheless it sends a message of how we can mobilise support when needed – which also means a lot to me and my Steering Group. People close to me will know that I struggle with apathy and that’s one thing we do not have at BRFC – so a big thanks to all the members and friends that acted to show their support … ‘our day will come’.
In previous AGM presentations I have always said that we may well have a gap in what we needed and what we could afford and that I wouldn’t commence the project if that gap was too big.
We have commenced the project so that we have a proper home asap but in the knowledge that we have a gap of just under £400k.
The Stronger Towns Initiative was something we were hoping would more than assist in filling that gap and to enable an All-Weather Pitch, obviously at this stage we have not succeeded in getting anything from that.
Another area of focus has been Sport England – they have a Community Asset Fund which can grant up to £150k for projects. The maximum is rarely granted, and they are now focusing funds on things directly impacted by C-19.
However, I am pleased to say that the continued efforts of the Steering Group in pursuing SE and then in particular the determination by Stephen and Martyn over the last month has resulted in confirmation last Wednesday 23rd December that we have been awarded £150k towards the implementation of a Renewable Energy package (in particular Ground Source Heating).
So, part of the gap has been filled, we move a long way to being carbon neutral/negative and it will make our clubhouse so much more sustainable from a running costs perspective.
Those of you good at maths will realise that the above funding from SE does not fill the gap! We are looking at other routes to do that and all members and friends will have the opportunity to assist – whether through a ‘buy a brick’ scheme, sponsorship or just looking for funding from different sources – regardless of how small.
I am confident that we will fill the funding gap through a combination of schemes – and shortly we will communicate more explicitly to members and friends on how they can help in that cause.
In the meantime, let’s reflect on the fact that Phase 1 was done in 2019, Phase 2 was planned in 2020 and then commenced on the 150th anniversary of BRFC (5th October 2020) and hopefully 2021 will be another chapter in the long and successful history of BRFC.
Thanks as always to the small and hard-working Steering Group – you should know them by now but just in case - Martyn Evans, Andy Peach, Phil Foster, Rich Williams, Stephen Eastwood, Bill Leason and Ian Cartwright.
Please keep safe, sound and supportive – the best is yet to come.
Chair of Development | Burton RFC