Norwich shooting club in the firing line as council ends its lease
PUBLISHED: 12:26 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:26 19 October 2017
Archant Norfolk 2017
The future of a Norwich target shooting club hangs in the balance after the Norfolk County Council said it would terminate a lease for a building used by the group.
Norwich City Target Club chairman George Darling said the club had been based at the Wensum Lodge in Norwich since 1982 and had produced county, national and Commonwealth champions.
But a Norfolk County Council spokesperson said the council was keen to see the building “being used primarily as a place of learning”.
Mr Darling said the building had been empty when the club moved in.
“We have invested quite a bit in converting it into an indoor shooting range of a high standard so would hate to give it up.”
He said a lease for the premises was last signed with Norfolk County Council in 2003 for a two year period.
“They have never said anything to us so since then we have just continued paying our rent.
“About a month ago we got a call from the council saying they wanted to talk about the lease. We held an informal meeting where we told the council wants to turn the premises into storage.”
He said a second meeting was scheduled for next month leaving the club’s 20 active members fearing for its future.
“This is an Olympic sport and we need decent premise to train indoors. It would ruin the club if this was taken away from us. At the moment we have no other option.”
Lisa Hill, the mother of rising sharp shooter Olivia Hill, said the club’s closure would have devastating consequences for her 16 year-old daughter.
She said: “Olivia shoots in the precision air rifle category and has made the Scout National Squad, the Norfolk County Air Rifle team and was just recently accepted into the Great Britain Rifle Talent Squad, which is seen as the gateway to the Olympics.
“If Olivia is unable to train indoors her aspirations to make the Olympics would be seriously affected.”
The county council spokesperson said: “We have met with Norwich City Target Club and appreciate the disappointment that they will not able to continue to use space at Wensum Lodge as a rifle range.
“We are exploring any ways we can assist them in their search for new premises and we will be flexible about the date they are to leave.”