School sports halls under threat

PUBLIC use of school sports halls is under threat after Suffolk County Council decided to review the finances involved in providing a community facility in the evenings and weekends.

PUBLIC use of school sports halls is under threat after Suffolk County Council decided to review the finances involved in providing a community facility in the evenings and weekends.

It is understood that the county council is cutting back on the amount of money it wants to spend on opening the sports halls when schoolchildren have left the premises.

This means that other councils or organisations will have to foot the shortfall - or the facilities will close.

The opening of the sports hall at Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge, is the latest facility under threat and meetings are taking place to try to keep the hall available for users including a Men's Keep Fit class, badminton and football players.


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The sports hall has been a valuable community facility in Woodbridge which does not have a public sports centre and users are disappointed it could close.

David Rowe, the county's portfolio holder for strategic and financial planning, said: ''The public told us they wanted a very low council tax increase and in setting one of the lowest increases in the country some very difficult decisions had to be made.

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''This meant looking closely at services such as joint use sports centres where we have no statutory duty to provide such services. However, we have been working with the schools and the district council to look at the possibility of keeping these leisure facilities available to the community.''

A district council spokesman said: ''Suffolk Coastal currently supports the community use of Farlingaye School with funding of about £7,000 a year.

''We are aware of the implications of the county council decision on the future of these facilities, and there are on-going discussions with the school to try to find a way to ensure that the local community can continue to enjoy them to the maximum.''

David Carpenter, of Burkitt Road, Woodbridge, was involved with men's Keep Fit classes at Farlingaye many years ago and he said they had become an institution in the town.

''If the facilities do stop being used out of school then I think it is something that should be addressed. It is a shame that a sports centre will be lost to the public of Woodbridge and also to the clubs who use it, of which Men's Keep Fit has been at the forefront of using the facilities there,'' he said.

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