Part-closure of cricket pavilion the result of Council ‘neglect’

“SEVERE” neglect of The Nevill Ground pavilion by its Council landlords has now disrupted profitable social events on top of making significant financial investment by Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club (TWCC) necessary, a club officer has charged.

Works paid for by TWCC – to paint and repair the building, including replacing the front door and rotten window frames – have been underway since May. The club decided last December to take over the job from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC).

When TWBC inspected the works, it closed the top floor where the bar is, in a “sudden decision” which threw scheduled events into disarray – even though the club had been correcting “defects caused by the Council”, according to club officer Mark Williams, in a letter to TWBC Chief Executive William Benson.

Visiting the renovations last Friday (September 8), the Times saw smooth and freshly-painted façades around the building, apart from the top floor of the west-facing side, which was secured by ply-board, while scaffolding remained – understood to be the reason for the inspectors part-closing the building.

As a result, an event for Tunbridge Wells Harriers and TWCC’s celebration of a national T20 title for its U13 girls had to be relocated, hitting TWCC’s bar income, according to Mr Williams.

Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club’s 125th anniversary, scheduled to take place this Sunday (September 17), has been reorganised as a barbecue.

Ownership of The Nevill Ground’s building and grounds was transferred to TWBC in 1951 for £1, and clubs, including TWCC, pay to use the facilities.

Yet in annual paint jobs, Council contractors have been painting over rotten wood, Mr Williams wrote to Mr Benson, citing evidence from the club’s contractor.

A former club chairman, Mr Williams was mandated at the TWCC club AGM in December to project-manage the decoration and repairs.

According to his letter, the extent of “severe rotten areas […] only became clear […] when our decorator exposed them under the makeshift paint”, lengthening the job by two months.

“…When he took the paint off, all he could see was rot,” he said. “The decorator had to employ a carpenter for the external façade in many places.”

Slamming the decision to close the top floor, Mr Williams said: “This is TWBC hiding behind Health and Safety now, having allowed the building to fall apart by their own lack of action.”

He put the income lost from not being able to host the Harriers event in the bar last week at £2,000.

Current club chairperson Michael Webb said the club had budgeted about £25,000 for the works, but about £15,000 extra had to be spent on carpentry.

A spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: “We have been talking to the club about the concerns they have over maintenance of the pavilion.

“We are waiting for a structural survey to be completed and as a result it is very unfortunate but we have had to close off the top floor and we are sorry for the inconvenience this causes.”

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