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Column 1st April 2020

What will our leisure centre funding be spent on?

A couple of weeks ago, the Vale District Council admitted that they were cancelling plans for a proposed new leisure centre for OX12.

This is despite the fact that they will receive at least £6.4 million for leisure facilities from developers of approved homes in Wantage and Grove and despite the fact that they have received millions of pounds in new homes bonus payments from the government and could have applied for lottery funding to top up the amount.

Yet over £6 million pounds has been spent on leisure facilities in Abingdon and some of the funds earmarked for facilities in Wantage and Grove may now be spent on further renovations to tennis courts in Abingdon.

They say that they are intending to develop and introduce a new Active Communities Strategy, which will identify ways of providing leisure activities in the heart of local communities, but what does this mean?

Our population is growing about 67 percent on top of 2011 numbers and so far we have no new leisure facilities, in fact since the Wantage Tennis Club sold its land for development and moved to Manor Park the number of courts in the town have reduced.

On the Crab Hill development we should be getting three full size sports pitches, a skate park, a “Neighbourhood Area Equipped for Play” (a NEAP is 1000 square metres and suitable for children of all ages), three “Local Equipped Areas for Play” (a LEAP is at least 400 square metres and suitable for children under 11) and a Multi Use Games Area (a MUGA is a sports surface which is suitable for many different games).

On the Grove Airfield Development, one football pitch should be available now (after 50 homes are occupied) with a further five pitches, two NEAPs, five LEAPs, two MUGAs and a new pavilion to come.

So there are lots of outdoor facilities to come but if every winter is as wet as this one has been we probably need lots more indoor facilities.

We are told that the NHS wants to focus on health and wellbeing, encouraging us to get and stay active through life. So we need facilities to help us to do this and with over £4 million from developers earmarked for indoor facilities and swimming and a further £2 million for tennis, cricket, football, rugby and other outdoor activities, we need to make sure that the council knows how we (the residents of OX12) want this money to be spent.


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