Time out agreed in battle to save Blackpool netball courts

Blackpool Sports Centre
Blackpool Sports Centre
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Talks are to be held in a bid to solve a row over plans to convert part of a sports centre into a children's play area after thousands of people signed a petition calling for the facility to be saved.

Blackpool Council's executive agreed to defer a decision after being asked to approve borrowing of £325,000 to change indoor court space at Blackpool Sports Centre into a soft play area for under-eights and a cafe.

The move would halve the space at the dual sports hall on West Park Drive, meaning the loss of one netball court and five badminton courts.

The Fylde Netball League - which celebrated its 60th anniversary this year - launched a petition to save the venue which attracted more than 4,000 signatures in less than three days.

Former England national netball coach Tracey Neville used Twitter to lend her support to the campaign.

A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: “The proposal to develop a soft play centre and cafe at Blackpool Sports Centre has been deferred.

"We need to spend more time looking at the financial model in light of the recently announced changes to prudential borrowing.

"This will also give us an opportunity to speak again to the groups that use the venue to see if there are any solutions to the issues that they have raised.”

Fylde Netball League secretary Barbara Graham welcomed the move.

She said: "I'm sure there is a solution to increase revenue, expecially when it comes to day-time use.

"A lot of other groups, especially smaller groups, have been in touch with me who also need to use the dual hall facility.

"The number of signatures on the petition is rising steadily so it clearly affects a lot of people and the council does need to listen to them.

"We have even had support from recently retired national coach Tracey Neville, and if we can't promote netball in a year when Liverpool hosted the Netball World Cup, when can we do it?"