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Yarmouth drill hall plans ditched

PUBLISHED: 16:29 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:32 03 July 2010

Members of Sports Club 88 protest at Tuesday's Community meeting at St James' Church Hall in Yarmouth

Members of Sports Club 88 protest at Tuesday's Community meeting at St James' Church Hall in Yarmouth

MEMBERS of sports group across the borough were elated this week after proposals to transform Great Yarmouth's Drill Hall were ditched.

The 300 people who regularly use the hall for tennis, badminton and basketball can continue to use the York Road facility after Norfolk County Council failed in it's to bid to secure £1.

MEMBERS of sports group across the borough were elated this week after proposals to transform Great Yarmouth's Drill Hall were ditched.

The 300 people who regularly use the hall for tennis, badminton and basketball can continue to use the York Road facility after Norfolk County Council failed in it's to bid to secure £1.7m of lottery funding.

The failed MyPlace funding bid announcement on Wednesday came a day after more than 30 members of Sports Club 88 held at protest at a community meeting in Yarmouth, attended by council chiefs leading the funding bid.

A petition opposed to proposals, which could have seen the sports hall divided into smaller units to create a youth centre, had gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

Sports users were also angry that they had never been consulted on the plans.

Ann Keable, treasurer of Sports Club 88 which plays badminton and table tennis, said: “It is good to hear that they have not got the funding. I think our protest may have helped. It is a victory for common sense.”

A consultation meeting next Wednesday for user groups will still go ahead as Norfolk County Council says it needs to examine the use of the hall which runs at a loss.

At the moment Sports Club 88 only pays £11 for a two hour session on four courts in the hall.

Mrs Keable said: “We expect the council to raise the price of using the hall.”

Mark Westgate, who runs a ladies basketball team at the hall, said he was “most pleased” the bid had been unsuccessful. However, he said users were keen to work with the county council to find ways to make the hall more self-financing.

He said: “We have no problem with costs going up and we would rather work with the council to find a solution. Perhaps something through a sport grant so we could combine activities for the young, old and local community.”

Jeff Leak, Norfolk County Council children's services eastern area team leader, said: “While it is disappointing for the young people that we have worked with, as it would have offered greater opportunities for their age range in Yarmouth and eastern area of Norfolk, I'm sure that it will be welcomed by some user groups of the York Road Drill Hall.

“It was not our intention for some of the York Road Drill Hall user groups to feel aggrieved by not being consulted at this early stage, but as I have previously stressed, this was simply because it was an initial enquiry into the viability for external funding of this project, rather than us not wanting to seek their opinions.”

“While the Drill Hall will continue to operate as it is in the short term, we need to work hard to find a long term solution for a venue that is listed, requires large scale improvement and investment and despite the revenue it brings in, still runs at a loss each year.”

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