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Fears sports groups will lose hall

PUBLISHED: 15:56 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:06 03 July 2010

FEARS have been raised this week that sporting groups in Great Yarmouth could be left high and dry if plans to transform a sports hall go-ahead.

Norfolk County Council, which owns the old Drill Hall on York Road, is in the process of applying for lottery funding in a bid to transform the hall into a youth centre, dividing into several smaller units.

FEARS have been raised this week that sporting groups in Great Yarmouth could be left high and dry if plans to transform a sports hall go-ahead.

Norfolk County Council, which owns the old Drill Hall on York Road, is in the process of applying for lottery funding in a bid to transform the hall into a youth centre, dividing into several smaller units.

The news has angered hall users who say it will be difficult to find alternative facilities.

Mark Westgate, who helps run basketball sessions at the venue, said: “As users of the facility we are extremely dismayed that as yet we have not been consulted.”

He said the venue was used by about 300 people ranging in ages. “There is a large youth contingent to retired individuals, from single mums and dads to families who wish to take part in some exercise in a sociable and affordable environment.”

Doug Hall has run a badminton club at the hall for the last 25 years and said he would be saddened to see the sports hall go. “This is a very good sports hall, it has a spring floor and is cheap to use. I would be very sad to see it go.”

The hall is used by a range of sports clubs including badminton, basketball and five-a-side football.

Steven Reilly, Norfolk County Council spokesman, said the council had been working with some young people who use hall for around a year to try to develop a bid via the Myplace scheme, so the facility could be used for the best benefit of young people.

He said: “The building was originally used as a youth centre, and now finds itself in a position where it is listed, requires large scale improvement, and despite any revenue it brings in it still runs at a loss each year.

“The young people have been shaping a bid for funding, with the idea at this stage to create a high quality youth venue, offering a place for young people to meet, with an area for their health and well-being, but particularly developing young entrepreneurial skills and best equipping them for the business world.”

He added the council would soon begin consulting with the full range of centre users and the local community about the bid. “We will of course take any feedback on board as we move forward,” he said.

“No bid has been submitted and therefore no money secured, but if we are successful in securing the funding this would be a wonderful resource for the community and for young people in Yarmouth for years to come.”

What do you think? Write to the Mercury, 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2PA, or email anne.edwards @archant.co.uk

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