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Council cutbacks may close shooting clubs

Huntingdonshire District Council has said its plans to close a local shooting range, as revealed in last week’s Shooting Times, are necessary to save money and reduce the council’s deficit.

Members of St Ives Rifle and Pistol Club, in Cambridgeshire, said that the redevelopment proposals at One Leisure, in St Ives, which houses the range will sound the death knell for the club, as there are no other suitable facilities in the area.

The club’s secretary, Terry Smith, said he believed his sport was being treated unfairly: “In 1972, there was a grant from the Eastern Sports Council to put rifle shooting and squash courts in the leisure centre. In 2000, the squash courts were moved out and alternative facilities were provided. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that the rifle shooting facilities are considered on the same basis.”

“The ultimate irony is that the Council is running taster sessions for various sports in the area at the moment and they are using our club to lay on sessions designed to give people a taste of rifle shooting! Those sessions are fully booked, which shows the great interest that exists.”

Huntingdonshire District Council said the proposals for the leisure centre’s redevelopment would be presented to senior management this week, before going to the overview and scrutiny panel in April.

A spokesman said: “The proposal covers much of the site and includes the rifle range. The council has been tasked with making savings over the coming years and reducing the deficit at the leisure centres. One Leisure’s manager’s brief is to make the centre more economically viable.”

“The rifle and pistol club’s range occupies a large area, is used infrequently and generates little in admissions or revenue. One Leisure has a remit to improve as a business and we believe that the current space could lend itself to an alternative use that will make financial sense to convert. At the current time this is a proposal and no decisions have yet been made.”