Sports clubs 'devastated' after Vale Council considers future use of St Paul's Church

Sports clubs 'devastated' after Vale Council considers future use of St Paul's Church

RESTORATION: Penarth Amateur Boxing Club and Penarth Gymnastics Club had been hoping to move into St Paul's Church (4408285)

CLOSED: St Paul's Church was closed for healthy and safety reasons in February 2011(4408287)

SCAFFOLDING: Concerns have been raised about the conditions inside St Paul's Church (4408295)

KNOCKOUT BLOW: Penarth Amateur Boxing Club was based at St Paul's Church for 36 years before they were forced to leave (4408327)

First published in Penarth news

TWO PENARTH sports clubs have said they fear for their future after the Vale Council said it would be considering further options for the future use of St Paul’s Church.

Both Penarth Amateur Boxing Club and Penarth Gymnastics Club had been hoping to move into the dilapidated building on Arcot Street after £250,000 of work was carried out to restore it.

But the Vale Council has said that the clubs have failed to meet a February 14 deadline for business plans to be submitted and that it will now be “considering further options for the site".

Nick Chandler, who has been liaising with the Vale Council on behalf of the two clubs, had requested further time to address issues from the proposals and questioned how they were supposed to draw up business plans without figures for a potential lease and rent for the former church, as well as asking how both non-profit making clubs would be able to pay for the subsequent maintenance of the building.

Rob Thomas, director of development services at the Vale Council, rejected the application for an extension on the grounds that “the situation could not be allowed to persist indefinitely”.

He added: “As a council we have to be mindful of the deteriorating condition of the building and given the lack of progress the representative has been told that we will be considering further options for the site."

He added that the series of questions from Mr Chandler was “both surprising and disappointing”.

The two club’s hopes had been boosted after a consultation last year found that 62 per cent of local residents were in favour of St Paul’s Church becoming the permanent home for the boxing and gymnastics clubs.

Former Olympian and gym club owner Gwynedd Lingard MBE said that the gymnastics club, currently renting premises at an industrial estate in Barry, was running out of its savings and that the future of the club looked bleak if it wasn’t allowed to move into St Paul’s.

“The long-term future is not very bright and after 52 years this is very hard to say,” she said.

“I was a bit of a girl when I set it up and I will be 80 this year. We are still looking for a place to stay.

“We feel under used, underappreciated and undervalued.”

She added: “The main thing is that we had taken years to save towards a new gym and that has now been spent on rent. The parents, children and supporters that helped us accrue that money must be crying in their soup as it’s no longer there for the purpose it was intended.”

Neil Munn, club manager of Penarth ABC, said that he was “devastated” by the whole situation and was desperate for a resolution to be found.

“I’m devastated as at the end of the day the boxing club has been my life since I was seven years old and I was 50 last week,” he said.

“The amount of champions that we have had come out of that gym has been dozens and dozens and it doesn’t seem to mean anything to the council.”

Nick Chandler, speaking on behalf of the boxing and gymnastics clubs, said that they had arranged a meeting with Penarth and Cardiff South Assembly Member Vaughan Gething for this Friday, March 7, after being frustrated with attempting to negotiate with the Vale Council.

“We have decided we are getting nowhere with Rob Thomas and the Vale Council so we are taking it up with Vaughan Gething,” he said.

“We are going to see him in a last-ditch attempt to try and get the situation back on track. We are really at a last-ditch attempt with our AM about our ward councillors.”

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