Battle cry for match funding

A BATTLE cry has gone out to get the county council to match a bid to Sport England for £200,000 of funding to save our town’s only athletics track.

The cash-strapped committee that runs the track at William Parker Sports College wants to apply to Sport England for match funding.

Inspired Facilities is focused on making it easier for local community and volunteer groups to improve and refurbish sports clubs or transform non-sporting venues into modern grassroots sport facilities.

Part of Places People Play, Sport England’s programme to deliver a London 2012 legacy of increased mass participation in sport, it is investing £50 million of National Lottery funding in up to 1000 community sports projects between 2011 and 2014.

And the committee wants a slice of the funding in Hastings.

It says it can only secure the funding if the county council will match fund any money it can get its hands on.

Hastings MP Amber Rudd visited the track last Friday when she met track committee chairman Peter Southee, county councillor Matthew Lock and William Park assistant headteacher David Evans.

Ms Rudd applauded The Observer’s Back the Track campaign and said she would be writing to the county council and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson.

She said: “We must tackle one hurdle at a time.

“It has been one of those issues where everybody has been passing the buck and now we have reached a crunch point.

“I will be writing to the county council to ask for match funding. I will also write to the sports minister Hugh Roberton.

“And I whole heartedly support the Observer’s campaign to save the track.”
Mr Evans, who is on the track committee, believes £200,000 would go a long way to securing the immediate future of the track.

He said: “We could respray the track with a protective covering which could give a lifespan of around 10 years.

“But we need more funding to run the track each year.

“We are currently have a £22,000 a year operating budget to keep it going.

“I believe Sussex Downs College receives up to £70,000 a year investment from the council.

“It’s all well and good to resurface the track but it needs annual financial maintenance and structure.”