A deal to provide Trowbridge with a new £7.54 million leisure facility next to Doric Park is too ‘one-sided’ and could take up to 50 years to pay off, says a Tory councillor.

Cllr Antonio Piazza says the “terrible deal for Trowbridge taxpayers” offers Trowbridge Rugby Football Club deal 'too many sweeteners' as part of a 99-year lease agreement to use a strip of land and access to the site.

At a town council meeting tonight councillors are to vote on whether to go ahead with an application to borrow up to £3.9m from the Public Works Loan Board to help fund the scheme.

It would provide the town with a new 3G Artificial Turf Pitch for use by football and rugby clubs, including a pavilion with changing facilities, showers, toilets, a gym, therapy room, meeting rooms and car parking.

After seeing the lease agreement for the first time last Wednesday, Cllr Piazza said: “This is a terrible deal for Trowbridge taxpayers and financial mismanagement at the highest level.

“We all want state-of-the-art leisure facilities in Trowbridge. These are much needed and in demand. However, this is not the right route to take in obtaining these facilities.

“I am appealing to residents to come to the vote at the Civic Centre on Tuesday, May 3 at 7pm and publicly speak out against the financing and legalities of the project.

“This agreement exists because the land originally purchased by TTC ago could not fit a full-sized 3G pitch on it and there was no access to the land.

“TRFC's lawyers have negotiated with TTC and drawn up an agreement that is incredibly one-sided and detrimental to the taxpayers of this town.”

As part of the deal, the town council is offering TRFC:

• 89 car-parking spaces, funded as part of the £3.9m in borrowing, will be for the use of TRFC;

• Extra changing rooms for TRFC;

• Associated landscaping and drainage works on TRFC’s side of the site;

• Free usage of the 3G Pitch (two hours free on a Sunday morning, worth £6,420 annually for 99 years, arguably the most important time of the week for most local football clubs);

• Discounted usage of the 3G Pitch at other times;

• Annual Rent Payment of £2,000;

• TTC would agree to fund floodlighting with associated planning costs, unrelated to this project, for a grass pitch owned exclusively by TRFC. TTC has budgeted £115,000 towards this. If TTC fail to gain planning permission they must appeal and pay for all costs. If TTC fail the appeal they will have to pay TRFC £70,000;

• TTC would also agree to fund the relocation and refurbishment of a play area, also owned exclusively by TRFC (up to £29,000);

• TRFC’s membership will be granted a discount of 25 percent for use of the gym facility;

• TRFC will not let any Association Football Club claim that the site of Doric Park is their home base or ground whilst the Right of Way remains in use to access the TTC facilities;

• Paying for a World Rugby Reg 22 compliant shock pad, costing thousands, that is not a requirement for football;

• Payment of all TRFC’s legal fees.

Cllr Piazza added: “Most importantly, the document released on Wednesday makes it clear that this leasehold agreement of 99 years (without security of tenure) applies to both a section of the pitch and the site access.

“Therefore, TTC would lose all access rights after 99 years or potentially after a 12-month notice period if TTC breached a condition and failed to remedy TRFC’s satisfaction.

“The meaning behind ‘reasonable satisfaction’ in the document is open to legal interpretation and TTC could find themselves in a position where they cannot satisfy TRFC, resulting in them terminating the 99-year lease, leaving TTC with no access to the site, 3G pitch, and facilities.

“With this condition, there is a strong possibility of the Trowbridge taxpayer paying £150,804 a year for 50 years (total £7.54m) for a facility they cannot even access.”

Lance Allan, the town council’s chief executive, said: “I am unable to comment on the deal with TRFC as this is commercially confidential.”

But he added: "When we are paying £150,804 per annum in 40 years' time we will be charging a lot more as a result of inflation and in year 40, therefore making a positive financial return of over £100,000 per annum and increasing.

"The Net Present Value of the project is on our worst estimate less than £2.3m. The cost is what we pay to the contractors now which will be up to £4.75m. The cash flow outgoings will be the £7.5m."

Trowbridge RFC has been approached for a comment.