Calls to stay positive as Retroskate future is close to decision

The four skaters who found success at the Cup of Europe in Italy with Harlee Wicks being presented w

The four skaters who found success at the Cup of Europe in Italy with Harlee Wicks being presented with his medal. - Credit: Retroskate

Renewed calls to stay positive and reject controversial proposals that could close two sports clubs have been voiced.

It comes as Great Yarmouth Borough Council comes close to making a decision on the future of the Marina Centre which could see the southern end make way for car parking and the bowling rinks for new gym and spa facilities.

Thousands of people have reportedly changed their Facebook profile picture to Retroskate's Save our Rink image while the indoor bowling club is appealing for security as the new season approaches.

Within weeks of a decision being made the skating club has revealed it could host up to four major international competitions and galas a year and that funding was available to extend the rink if the decision went its way.

Retroskate director Donna Wicks said the uncertainty was affecting business at the community interest company with families unwilling to invest in skates while the closure threat remained.

However, the club which already reaches a staggering 70,000 skaters a year, was poised to expand although the lack of certainty meant everything was on hold.

Mrs Wicks said she understood the council had put off making a decision at its next meeting January 12, but that it would still be within the month.

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The borough council announced a major remodelling of both the Marina Centre and Phoenix Pool in Bradwell some 18 months ago, which it billed as a do-or-die decision.

Work to upgrade the Phoenix was completed this year but progress has slowed in Yarmouth where Retroskate and the indoor bowls club - who both face eviction - have objected.

Both clubs say they fulfil an important role keeping local folk healthy and active chiming with council thinking about involving people of all ages in sport.

Helen Farrow, chairman of the 150-strong indoor bowls club said with the new season starting in April time was ticking and they needed to think about entering the leagues.

Having won an extension more than a year ago the club was in the same position as before, facing a crucial point in the bowling calendar.

She said: 'We feel as though we are being dangled on a bit of string and that they will just keep us going until they say 'that's it, you're out.' I am very disillusioned.'

Although there was little information she understood there were four options, only one of which retained the bowls rinks - doing nothing.

Leader of the council Graham Plant said work was continuing behind the scenes to bottom out the best case for the leisure centre and to get answers to outstanding issues.

He said: 'We are at a difficult crossroads. We have a building that needs a lot of money spending on it and a council that is trying to find money to keep services going.

'At the end of the day we are not talking about pennies. We are looking at the business case put forward by Sentinel and Pulse and a report from Sport England. Officers are crunching the numbers.'

Retroskate is the country's biggest artistic roller skating club, winning 16 British titles and five international selections. Four skaters also made their mark at the Cup of Europe in Bologna, Italy.

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