Future of edge-of-Norwich water sports centre put in doubt

Hopes are high that a business will come forward to either take over or help run a water sports centre on the outskirts of Norwich amid council cuts.

The future of Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre, near Trowse, has been put in jeopardy as Norfolk County Council begins its hunt for 'another provider' to run the facility.

The move is part of the county council's bid to bridge a �155m funding gap in the next three years in the wake of government cuts in public spending.

As part of the proposals, the council plans to cut funding for all youth and community services, which includes a �86,000 subsidy paid to the Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre.

In a report which was due to go before council members at County Hall today, it states: 'A number of organisations have shown interest in either taking over this facility or working in partnership with Norfolk County Council to run the centre.

'It is felt that there is sufficient interest in this approach to ensure the future of the centre but detailed proposals will need to be worked up after the final decision on this budget.'

The children's services overview and scrutiny panel meeting due to be held this afternoon was part of a series of key meetings held this week to report responses to the council's Big Conversation consultation.

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By cutting its youth and community services funding, the council hopes to save �4.6m.

Currently, the Whitlingham centre provides a wide range of activities including canoe and sailing lessons and is on the list to be one of the training venues for the Olympics next year.

It is also used by the city's triathlon club Tri-Anglia for supervised open water swimming sessions and its flagship event, the Norwich Triathlon.

Rob Lines, chairman of the Norwich-based triathlon club, said: 'Tri-Anglia is probably the largest customer of the Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre.

'As triathlon continues to grow we look to make more use of the facilities and wish to be an active part in the development of the facilities in Whitlingham.

'As such we eagerly await a resolution to the future of the facilities.'

Are you worried about the loss of a community facility? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk