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Protests over Yarmouth hall plans

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:07 06 July 2010

Angry badminton players caused a racket in Yarmouth yesterday as they protested over plans to shut one of the town's popular sporting facilities.

The members of Sports Club 88 were demonstrating against a proposed scheme to convert York Road drill hall into a youth centre.

Angry badminton players caused a racket in Yarmouth yesterday as they protested over plans to shut one of the town's popular sporting facilities.

The members of Sports Club 88 were demonstrating against a proposed scheme to convert York Road drill hall into a youth centre.

As well as brandishing "drill hall for all" racquets outside a community meeting at St James' Church hall, the club has joined forces with hundreds of other sports users to draw up a petition against any change of use of the building.

So far 1,135 names have been collected for the petition against Norfolk County Council's plans, which could see the hall divided up into smaller units as part of a £1.7m lottery-funded youth project.

The site is regularly used by 300 people and sports groups say that they have never been consulted on the future of the building, which may be decided on the views of eight youngsters from the town.

Campaigners have also invited the leader of the county council, Daniel Cox, to a meeting in the town's Furzedown Hotel on August 5 to discuss the proposals to transform the hall into a youth centre.

Ann Keable, treasurer of Sports Club 88, said: "There is great concern about the proposals to change the use of the drill hall from a building that is used by the whole community as a sports hall, to a youth centre only where no sports will be played.

"It seems unbelievable that at a time when there is a push to increase fitness and exercise, one of only two sports halls in the area, available during the day, could be closed."

Fellow club member Rex Parkinson-Hare, who is also a county councillor for the area where the hall is based, said: "I am disturbed there was no consultation with the people who use these premises. They feel aggrieved. I am certainly opposing the plans to chop the hall up into smaller units."

Last year, the council prepared a report on the Myplace lottery funding for the hall after it consulted with eight young people on what they thought Yarmouth needed. The bid for funding from the council must be made by September.

County Hall says the drill hall needs large-scale improvement and despite the revenue sports groups bring in, it still makes a loss.

Jeff Leak, the county council's children's services team leader, said: "We understand that there is strength of feeling that the drill hall should remain unchanged.

"I would like to stress that nothing has been decided upon at this stage. We have recently submitted an expression of interest for lottery funding and have been working with a group of young people to explore a range of options for the development of the hall."

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