The proposal involves the council making a £200,000 one off capital investment and £150,000 match funding for the project obtained by Sport England. The project had by full support as it is another example of our Olympic Legacy and in addition will be the catalyst for some much needed TLC for Two Tree Island which is a well used and loved by many.
When the paper was first presented I did have some concerns but was happy to give my support as Cabinet agreed with the proposal on the basis that:
(a) Match funding being obtained from Sport England (If the match funding cannot be secured, then Cabinet would reconsider whether to progress with the project)
(b) The preparation of a sports development plan demonstrating how community involvement will be increased with the development of the facility
(c) The provision of improved facilities for the Pier and Foreshore services.
(d) A reasonable level of rent being achieved in the context of the revenue cost of borrowing.
There was some opposition to the scheme which seemed to be centred around the issues that Rowing is an 'elitist' sport. True, in years gone by Rowing may have been seen as an elitist sport but with one of the conditions of approval being a sports development plan demonstrating how community involvement will be increased, this ensures that schools and communities across the social spectrum in the town will be able to access the sport of Rowing for the first time.
This whole elitist thing quite frankly annoys me. Tennis is classed as an elitist sport but would anyone object to Tennis Courts being provided by the council in our parks? No they wouldn't. The sport of Sailing is also perceived as being elitist. For those in the Independent Party who voted against the proposal but represent Thorpe ward, would they want to see the demise of Thorpe Bay Yacht Club as Sailing is perceived as elitist? Of course they wouldn't.
When this item was debated at scrutiny recently, one member, Cllr McMahon, asked for postcodes of the existing members of the Lower Thames Rowing Club which, quite rightly, angered the member whose ward Two Tree Island is in. Following the same logic, could you imagine the outcry from Cllr McMahon if a list of postcodes were asked for of residents in her ward who were in receipt of money from any state body.
Despite the issues the proposal has been given the go ahead but will be subject to planning permission being granted.