Windfall for sports clubs

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DOZENS of sports clubs and facilities in Northumberland could be upgraded thanks to a £50million National Lottery fund.

The Inspired Facilities project, which has been launched by Sport England and the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, is part of the Places People Play 2012 legacy programme.

Investment will be available to breathe new life into tired facilities that can be unattractive to sports participants, expensive to run and difficult to maintain, putting these clubs right back at the heart of their local communities.

There will also be money available to convert existing buildings into venues that are suitable for grassroots sport.

The programme has been designed to be as simple and accessible as possible for potential applicants, making it attractive to community groups and sports clubs who may not have received public funding before.

Typical investments can include a sprung floor that converts an unused hall into a local multi-sport facility, new changing rooms and new floodlights.

Sport England’s Chief Executive Jennie Price said: “I hope many of the groups who benefit from Inspired Facilities will be receiving Lottery funding for the first time.

“We have worked hard to simplify the application process, with a shorter form and a catalogue of ready-made options to choose from.

“We want people all over the country to be able to look back on 2012 as the year when their local sports facilities got better, as well as the year the Games came to London.”

At least £35million of the funding will go to community and voluntary organisations, through grants of between £20,000 and £50,000. The remaining money will be open to a wider group of organisations, including councils and schools, with grants of up to £150,000 available.

Applicants whose project will benefit disadvantaged young people will also be invited to apply for funding from the Thomas Cook’s Children’s Charity from August this year.

The charity is offering grants for sport as part of the Inspired Facilities fund after becoming Sport England’s latest corporate partner.

To make sure the technical elements of the application process don’t put off groups with good projects, the organisation has created a catalogue of typical facilities developments and improvements based on what sports clubs have told it they need.

For successful applicants, there is also the opportunity to make use of a group of pre-appointed contractors who can do the work without the need for a lengthy procurement process.

For more information, visit www.sportengland.org and click on the Inspired Facilities logo.