Ray of hope for Lowestoft squash players

THE strength of feeling for playing squash in Lowestoft was apparent as more than 70 passionate players turned out for a meeting with Waveney District Council representatives.

THE strength of feeling for playing squash in Lowestoft was apparent as more than 70 passionate players turned out for a meeting with Waveney District Council representatives.

But the anger among those present turned to positivity at the end of the open squash forum on Friday at Water Lane Sports Centre as hope of keeping open the facilities' courts emerged.

Local players, angry with plans to replace the two courts with a cr�che and soft play area as part of a proposed �6m redevelopment of the centre, were given a ray of hope as it was resolved that a squash group would be formed between council representatives and users.

Simon Bellamy, leisure operations manager at Waveney Council, told players the council is bidding for a �1m government grant that had to be submitted at short notice, the details of which could later be amended. He said a public consultation would allow everyone to have their say before plans were finalised.


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David Gallagher, the council's head of services, said Waveney had supported squash but admitted it was eight years since money had been spent on development of the sport at the centre and court maintenance work.

'We will try to build squash into our plans as we move forward,' he said. 'The general service hasn't been good enough and we need to address that.'

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Both sides agreed to appoint representatives to a working party to look at safeguarding the future of the sport in the town.

And having rallied fellow squash players into action, with more than 100 people having signed a petition, Paul Martins said: 'All in all it was a very positive meeting with a good outcome (formation of a working party) and I believe there is a very good future for squash.'

The meeting included presentations from the council, Mr Martins (on behalf of squash players), Mark Williams (the area manager for east of England squash) and John Hughes (the Lowestoft and Beccles Schools' Sport Partnership manager). And Lowestoft-based squash coach Max Dawson, who teaches local youngsters, was delighted with the turnout and resolution.

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