Help us keep running, pleads leisure team

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A BUSY leisure team has made a desperate plea for funds to keep its programmes running.

Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure (BVAL) organises a wide range of sports and other pursuits across the county to encourage more people to join clubs, boost their fitness and try new activities.

Around Morpeth the work has included providing support for health referral schemes at the Riverside Leisure Centre, organising paddle sports, orienteering events and after-school activities, helping with the walking festival and enhancing facilities at the Pegasus Riding for the Disabled Centre, as well as steering the bid for a new athletics track.

However, funding for BVAL’s Make-a-Move leisure inclusion team is due to end next month.

And last week staff asked Morpeth Town Council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee for support.

BVAL Chief Executive Bruce Ledger said: “We are here to see if there is a possibility that the town council would be interested in contributing towards the continuation of a sports development service.

“We have written to a number of the other town councils because in order to keep at least part of the team together we need to generate some additional money.

“We are putting activities on for youngsters and supporting clubs, and growing clubs, but if we lose our core team it will be very difficult to continue these activities.

“If there was an opportunity for Morpeth Town Council to contribute towards the service then we would work with you and agree with you what you would want to get out of your contribution.

“If we can get contributions from the town council then because they are new contributions it is only right and fair that you get some added value out of that, but it will depend on us keeping the core team together so that we still have the resources to do that.”

The committee was told that services and activities could be tailor-made to suit the council’s requirements and budgets.

However, the BVAL team would hope to secure match-funding for any sums awarded.

BVAL Leisure Development and Inclusion Manager Nathan Rogerson said: “The activities are very much bespoke to the communities and if you wanted a mainstream programme we could put that on.

“We are keen to use local facilities and we have used Carlisle Park in the past as it is an ideal venue for some large scale events.

“We know Morpeth has a successful town fair so we could link into that, and we also have links with the Riverside Leisure Centre.

“It is very much about what your needs are. We can quite easily tailor a programme to your needs and aspirations.”

The committee welcomed the presentation and agreed to discuss the issue further.

Coun Les Cassie said: “We should find a way of a small group working with you to see what we can do fairly quickly.”