It is one year on since Steve Welch, the leader of the Health and Wellbeing Team at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council (B&DBC), visited our town to hear residents’ views on sport provision.
At that specially convened meeting last year in Testborne Theatre Hall, Mr Welch had said,
“We’re in a much better position to get grant money if we work together” … “Particularly to the west of the Borough…for certain facilities and certain sports there is a deficit towards the west and that is something that we need to look at.”
WELL PROVIDED FOR
One year on and Mr Welch has followed-up to say,
“Overall Whitchurch is well provided for in terms of quantity of sport and recreation provision.”
He continued, “The quality of the facilities provided is more variable and some facilities need to be improved to meet future needs. There has also been a local need established for better / more playing fields.”
However, Mr Welch has dismissed the idea using the area behind The Knowlings for a sport and recreation field: “improvements and potential future needs can be served by the existing established sport and recreation sites.”
Cllr Keith Watts said there is no possibility of that field being used for a sports and recreation site “while the Council is constituted as it is.”
Cllr Eric Dunlop said, “Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council are presently considering allowing 200 houses to be built there. I have already strongly opposed this proposal as the present infrastructure is not suitable to carry the extra traffic.”
Cllr Dunlop has previously proposed housing with 150 acres of sports grounds to the south of town, behind Winchester Road residences.
COUNCIL INVESTS IN COFFEE SHOP AT LEISURE PARK
Recently, B&DBC invested* nearly £800,000 at Basingstoke’s Leisure Park to purchase a coffee shop which they will lease to Costa Coffee for 25 years.
The council’s drive-through coffee shop is located next to the new Airkix indoor skydiving facility that is soon to open. There are currently several other shops where people can purchase coffee at Basingstoke Leisure Park.
B&DBC Cllr Jack Cousens who sits on the committee that looks at sport provision stated that Airkix “approached the council to buy the coffee shop element as Airkikx (sic) wanted to use their cash for capital projects.”
“The Tories have invested all their hopes on this and are banking on Airkikx to succeed. They can’t afford it to fail, hence the purchase. Airkikx had them over a barrel. There would be a half built unit next to a brand new one.”
There is some Olympics Legacy cash available to the council to spend on sport provision in the Borough he said.
The Chief Executive of B&DBC Tony Curtis said, “a key factor here is the revenue return on the investment, something that leisure facilities will be unlikely to achieve.”
INDOOR POOL IS POSSIBILITY
Mr Welsh said, “Looking ahead we are working with [Testbourne] school to provide a new artificial turf pitch on site and undertaking a swimming pool options appraisal to explore the viability of a 20m indoor pool to replace the existing outdoor pool at the school in Whitchurch.”
B&DBC have recently funded a refurbishment to the community use changing rooms at Testbourne School and other improvements to the sports hall.
*The BBC report on the Council’s coffee shop purchase is HERE. Cllr Paul Harvey (Labour) created a petition against the Coffee Shop purchase HERE. The report to the Council regarding the coffee shop purchase is item no.12 at the 14 May 2013 council meeting – see HERE.
Our report on the May 2012 community meeting about sport provision is HERE.
Mr Welsh is leaving the council on 18 June 2013. Cllr Jack Cousens is a Labour councillor for Brookvale & Kings Furlong. Cllrs Watts and Dunlop are Liberal Democrat councillors for Whitchurch.