Rugby club calls foul over council grant

PLANS by a rugby club to install access for spectators with disabilities have been kicked into touch after councillors refused to give a grant.Suffolk Coastal District Council handed out grants to tennis and bowls players, scouts, village halls and playing fields when it considered 22 applications.

PLANS by a rugby club to install access for spectators with disabilities have been kicked into touch after councillors refused to give a grant.

Suffolk Coastal District Council handed out grants to tennis and bowls players, scouts, village halls and playing fields when it considered 22 applications.

But Woodbridge rugby club failed to receive a penny and the council said the club should be able to finance the cost of maintaining the premises at Bromeswell.

The club was told it was not a priority case for money, it was already successful and had a regular income.


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Colin Hart, cabinet member with responsibility for community grants, said: "Council budgets are particularly tight at the moment. Demand for grants always out strips supply and as every sportsman knows there are winners and losers in every game."

However, the club is angry because money was spent on plans and fees in drawing up a project costing nearly £5,000 to improve access at the clubhouse after officials had been told they could reasonably expect a favourable outcome with their grant application.

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There are steps up to the clubhouse and people in wheelchairs have to be carried inside the building. Next year new legislation comes into force to ensure better access for people with disabilities.

The club is also unhappy at the way the application was handled.

The first they knew of their unsuccessful bid was through a newspaper article – and it took Suffolk Coastal nearly two months to reply to a letter from Mike Simpson, a club committee member who submitted the application.

Mike Lubbock, club president, said: "We were absolutely amazed that we could be turned down. The point is that it gives the impression that rugby players are rich and yet we have people who play for us that we do not charge a match fee because they are unemployed.

"We have never had any money from the district or town council or anybody ever. They do not think we are worth anything."

The club opens its doors to hundreds of players weekly from numerous schools. On Sundays up to 150 children aged six to 18 play and there are matches against Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire clubs for all age groups. The clubhouse is used for charity events and the grounds are also used by Woodbridge Shufflers for a cross country race and other organisations.

Mr Simpson said: "We were a bit miffed to say the least. We went to the expense of having plans prepared, quotes and instructions which cost quite a bit of money.

"Now we will not improve the facilities. We do not have the funds. We are successful but that is because we are managed well."

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