Communities ‘must seek own funding for sports facilities’

Residents have been warned they will need to take control of recreation facilities themselves to keep sports in the Upper Dales, in the wake of severe cuts.

While sport across Richmondshire is traditionally underfunded, Fleur Butler, the leader of Richmondshire District Council which is facing a 33 per cent cut over two years in government funding, says the money will be drying up to nearly nothing.

Last year, the council budget for sports development – away from Richmond Swimming Pool where £300,000 a year is invested – was slashed by 50 per cent to just £30,000, a figure which is currently under review.

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Now, as the council needs to claw back £1.7m to balance its books, Coun Butler says residents will need to seek funding for sporting facilities themselves.

“No money is being given to the district to provide these at all,” she said.

“It is really up to the district to look at new ways of funding. We have never had very much invested in this but we all know the cuts are getting worse.”

There are already a number of successful community-run sports facilities across Swaledale and Wensleydale which have been funded by national grants and local fundraising.

A new sports pavilion in Carperby, which cost around £200,000, is currently being used in a national advertising campaign for confectionery giant Mars after residents, who raised £40,000 and secured another £55,000 in grants, contacted the company.

It agreed to stump up the rest of the cash if the work was finished by January.

In the nearby village of Askrigg, the Yorebridge Sports and Fitness Centre, which was set up by the community in 1999 and boasts a gym and fitness suite and a floodlit outdoor area for tennis, football and basketball, has proved an even bigger success.

The facility, which was given a start up grant by Sport England, is now nearly self-financing but still relies on community support.

Chairman Yvonne Peacock said: “We have 81 gym members here which is huge – it shows how important these facilities are.

“It was a big risk but we made it happen because of the fantastic community in the Dales.

“But for the big grants, we are going to be in difficulty for a number of years.”