Letter: ‘Abysmal’ record on sports

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I read with interest the article ‘Rugby club on way to £275k extension’ and I am delighted that SNC have made a grant of £120k towards Towcestrians club house development but I found laughable councillor Ian McCord’s comment this was in keeping with their strategy which included better sports and leisure facilities ahead of housing growth.

In November 2006, the Towcester and District Sports Council held a public meeting highlighting the under provision in the area.

Tony Clarke then a director and general manager of Northampton Town FC said that SNC has a woeful under provision of sports facilities, few district councils have so little and that 20 to 30 more pitches were need in the district.

At that meeting officers and councillors talked of options. councillor Mary Clarke said that she would like to bring all options forward.

Since then, the council set up the leisure trust (an independent body) to run the leisure centres and have a broad remit for sport and leisure. There were substantial savings through the setting up of the trust and with the vast majority of these we absorb into the council general coffers.

There was also a substantial VAT refund which related specifically to sport and leisure and again this was absorbed into general coffers.

The trust instigated the building of the Astroturf 3G pitch at Towcester Centre for Leisure and SNC did make a substantial contribution towards this and I acknowledge that was of great benefit.

However overall SNC’s record on sport and leisure can only be described as abysmal.

Currently I am seeking assurances that adequate sport and leisure facilities, both pitches and other facilities, will be included in the new development and that we will also get support in making available our facilities to the new University Technical College at Silverstone who the trust, like SNC, have partnered with.

Can we have confidence in councillor McCord’s comments regarding sport and leisure facilities taking into account SNC’s track record ?

I am prepared to take him at his word and assume if adequate facilities are not included in the planning application for the Towcester extension it will not go ahead. Time will tell!

Brian Taylor, chairman of South Northamptonshire Leisure Trust

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