Fylde coast sporting facilities get ready to reopen

Sports clubs and activity areas across the Fylde coast are looking forward to reopening their outdoor facilities after lockdown on Monday.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 3:45 pm

For most, it has been five months of deserted greens, courts and arenas – and careful preparations have been made to welcome back players as the next step of the country’s roadmap back towards normality.

Outdoor organised group sport for clubs which run their sessions on the outdoor facilities at Blackpool Sports Centre is among the activities returning and Coun Maria Kirkland, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for community cohesion and leisure, said: “Outdoor sports facilities will be able to reopen this coming Monday, meaning people can take part in organised sports again.

“We’re pleased to be able to provide increased access to our facilities, and as restrictions begin to ease our teams will of course be taking all the necessary precautions to reduce the risk to those taking part. All we ask is that people continue to follow those precautions and stay alert.

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The course being prepared at St Annes Old Links golf club, with its backdrop of Blackpool's The Big One

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“It’s another step in the right direction and we hope to see an increase in people enjoying being active in a safe and responsible way.

“We’re starting to get Blackpool back and return to the things we love doing – let’s keep it going.”

At St Annes Old Links Golf Club, which has been chosen to stage the regional qualifying matches for the Open Championship in June, it’s the key first step in what promises to be an eventful year.

Two-year-old Alma Tracey was helping her dad make final preparations to the course at St Annes' Mini Links before its reopening on Monday

Club secretary Jane Donohoe said: “We have been preparing a big newsletter for members with all the dos and don’ts’ because we don’t want anyone thinking the pandemic is all over. Hopefully, this time, when we reopen we can stay open.

“The members are champing at the bit to get back on the course.

“We’ve seen them walking past on a daily basis to see how the course is looking.

“We reopen the day after the clocks go forward, which helps us because longer days should make it less challenging to get a tee-time.

“We have enough slots for 320 people per day playing fourball.

“We aren’t planning any restrictions this time on the number of rounds people can book per week because we should be able to accommodate everyone.

“For the first two weeks the only indoor facilities open will be the toilets in the locker room, then hopefully we can open the locker room for changing, and then have the bar and catering open from May 17.”

If anything positive has come out of lockdown for such clubs, it has enabled courses to be prepared immaculately.

“The course is in fantastic condition after a reasonable winter, unlike the one last year, ” added Jane.

“We’ve been able to get on with projects and the team have been able to work very hard while the course has been closed.”

The St Annes Mini Links course on the Promenade had to close in October, along with all other such facilities and that scuppered plans manager Andy Tracey had for the Christmas period, such as night golf with special lighting.

The facility which Andy took over on behalf of Fylde Council 10 years ago and which include crazy golf and a putting green along with the main 18-hole course, will be open from 9am to 7pm from Monday and Andy and family members have been busy making sure it is in tip-top shape.

“We can’t wait to welcome people back,” he said. “It’s great that the reopening date coincides with the start of the Easter school holidays and with the lighter evenings and we are looking forward to seeing players out on the course. It has been a long five months.”

The new adventure golf course at Fairhaven Lake, which was only opened by Fylde Council in September and than closed through lockdown a few weeks later, opens from Monday at 10am and a Fylde Council spokesman said there had been plenty of advance interest.

“Feedback when we opened in late September was absolutely terrific but we obviously had the challenges of winter weather and lockdown,” said the spokesman.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest for the reopening via social media which is really heart-warming – we know we have a great product, a great team - it’s sure to be popular and there are high expectations.

“We are looking forward to welcoming plenty of visitors and we will have various Covid measures in place for guests’ safety.”

Work is still ongoing around the Lake on a major refurbishment of the area under Heritage Lottery Fund investment, including the Lake’s Japanese Garden.

“We had looked in depth with our health and safety team at getting the popular boat service back in time for Easter,” added the spokesman.

“But with the development works currently underway and to deliver a smooth and great guest experience, are looking to reopen it mid-May, when much of the lakeside works are finished.”

At St Annes Tennis Club, chairman Sarah Barrowclough says members are eager for their first taste of sports action since last October.

“I think the over-riding feeling is one of relief that we can finally get back on the courts, although there are of course still major restrictions,” she said.

“The changing facilities are out of bounds, so members have to arrive ready to play but at latest there is no restriction on playing doubles.

“When we were allowed to one for a few months up to October, we were restricted to singles.

“We are all looking forward to Monday and to the following stages of restrictions being eased over the next couple of months.”

Bowls is set to return to Fylde greens with the start of the new season on April 5.

What are the changes on Monday?

Lockdown rules are changing on Monday and there will be greater flexibility for families to meet up outside in time for the Easter holidays.

The changes are the second part of the first step of Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown, as the Government cautiously begins to reopen the economy.

But what exactly can you do on the Fylde coast from Monday? Here’s everything you need to know:

From Monday, larger groups of up to six people or two households will be allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, will also be allowed to reopen. People can take part in formally organised outdoor sports, including team sports.

The Stay at Home order will end, meaning that people can leave their homes for recreation or walks further afield.

Outdoor parent groups will also be allowed to meet, with a limit of up to 15 parents. Children have not been included in the number restrictions.

As a result of the easing of the “Stay Home” guidance, a number of outdoor activities are taking place over the bank holiday, including the National Trust running Easter egg hunts in its nature trails.

The Government has also confirmed that a ban on protests would also lift on March 29.

Monday’s easing also means weddings will no longer be limited to ‘exceptional circumstances’. This means anyone who wishes to tie the knot will be able to do so with up to six attendees.

While the ‘stay at home’ rule is expected to end on 29 March, strict travel restrictions will still apply, with the Government urging people to ‘stay local’.

People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.

Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.

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