Sports facilities in Audlem

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This is the draft 'Executive summary' being prepared for funding bids to improve sports facilities in Audlem. If you have any comments, please contact the Webteam.

Audlem's sports facilities have fallen well behind the standard expected by any community with virtually no investment since 1984 when the Tennis Club completely revamped its facilities. The success of the Tennis Club since then demonstrates just what can be achieved.

Audlem is at least 7 miles from anywhere so sports participation is time consuming, expensive and near impossible using public transport. Youngsters and many others, who cannot or do not wish to travel, need a dramatic improvement in local facilities. Audlem is the natural catchment area for over 3,000 residents, with a fifth under 19 years old, and over 50,000 more visit by narrowboat each year when they may want some exercise. There is also a national obesity and fitness crisis and Audlem's Parish Plan, published in December 2005, showed the public want better facilities.

The village has a strong sense of community and is the current national winner of Defra's 'Building Community Life' award and Calor's 'North of England' and 'Cheshire Village of the Year'. Despite this success, there are problems with some youths with little constructive to do. Better sports facilities may help solve this issue.

Football was popular locally with two league teams using the village centre's playing field. Both have had to move elsewhere because there are no changing facilities — the league rightly demands changing rooms as a condition of playing league football. There is a junior club, Audlem Saints, and huge interest amongst this age group, but they too need better facilities desperately. Even the goal posts are no longer in situ.

The Parish Plan lays out ambitious proposals for sports facilities to be improved dramatically by 2012, the year the Olympics come to Britain. A number of alternative proposals have been examined by the Community Projects group, which contains representatives from the Parish Council, Public Hall and Tennis Club, which is working on the implementation of the Parish Plan.

The proposal favoured is a new indoor sports facility behind the village's Public Hall, managed by the existing Public Hall committee, containing a gym, badminton court, fitness centre, changing rooms and toilets. Ideally it will also include a relaxation area which can be used by various groups. Badminton is played in the Public Hall but is marred by a pillar within the playing area and inadequate space. The current players believe interest would grow with proper facilities. The next-door children's playground also needs extensive refurbishment to bring it up to standard.

The changing facilities and toilets would bring football back to the playing field, attracting the league teams back to what is an excellent pitch, and increase interest by the juniors. Ideally the village would like 5 a side and basketball facilities but space restrictions make this difficult although the new hall would allow basketball and volleyball which may grow as a result of the Olympics.

Outline designs and costings will be carried out as soon as initial funding has been obtained but it is expected that the facility will cost over £1million. Crewe & Nantwich Borough Council is being asked about agreeing funding in principle for operating costs in line with their support in other areas of population.