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Community faces £100k fundraiser to save community playing fields used for 100 years as lease expires

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The private landowner of Ystradgynlais’ Welfare Playing Fields has agreed a new lease of £2,000 a year with a community organisation – but they’re demanding 50 years payment up front, leaving the community forced to find £100k or risk losing the vital community asset.

For the past 100 years, the community of Ystradgynlais has used the Welfare Playing Fields for tennis, bowls, cricket, football and rugby tournaments.

People stroll around the green open space where town carnivals and festivals have been held.

Few think of who actually owns the land the community uses however, with most assuming it belongs to the local rugby club or Powys County Council.

The land is actually owned by the Ynyscedwyn Estate and the descendants of the Gough and Audrey families.

The families owned much of the land in Ystradgynlais and many local landmarks are named after them, such as the Audrey Arms, Gough Arms and Ynyscedwyn School.

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While the community has enjoyed the use of the playing fields for the past 100 years, that 100 year lease is about to expire.

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In a statement, a spokesperson from Ystradgynlais Community Welfare Society said: “Behind the scenes, volunteers have negotiated a new lease at the very reasonable rate of £2,000 per annum, but there is one catch: the lease must be paid 50 years in advance.

“It will come as no surprise to learn that the Town or County Councils are unable to fund this cost in the present climate, which means that the community of Ystradgynlais needs to raise £100,000 as soon as possible, or risk losing all of these excellent facilities.

“Unfortunately, grant funding from sources such as the National Lottery etc. is not available to purchase leaseholds, and that is why the community of Ystradgynlais need to meet this challenge.”

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A charity has been set up by the group to raise the £100k needed to save the playing fields, with an online fundraiser as well as collection boxes across the town.

Commenting on the news, Hollywood actor and local activist Michael Sheen said on twitter: “Who the hell is demanding that the community of Ystradgynlais come up with 100k all at once to keep their playing fields after everything that’s happened??? They should be ashamed of themselves.”

The statement from the Welfare Society added: “Undoubtedly, this is a daunting and ambitious task, but we believe that the people of Ystradgynlais can meet this challenge together.”

For more information or to donate visit ycwga.co.uk

(Lead image: Ystradgynlais Community Welfare Society)

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