Council steps in to find city sport club a new home

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IT faced an uncertain future but now a community sports club has been found a new home.

Hilsea Cricket Club realised it had to move out of Portsmouth Rugby Camp after Pompey bought some of the land to build a new training base.

After contacting the city council, it got to work to help relocate the team of 18 players, which was only formed last year.

Following negotiations, the club has now secured a lease with the council to play at Great Salterns playing fields, off Tangier Road.

It means the club can continue to offer village-style cricket and have 
the opportunity to grow bigger.

Joe Standen, club liaison officer, said: ‘It’s a huge relief for us.

‘We really appreciate what the council has done.

‘Pompey is building its academy and we realised it would encroach on our cricket pitch.

‘Cricket is a sport that is growing in the city, we are all up for getting local people involved.’

The club will bring the land up to pitch-standard and hopes to be in action in time for the next cricket season.

Councillor Linda Symes, Tory cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, helped with the club’s move.

She said: ‘It links in with our sports strategy.

‘To keep active, it’s not just about going to the gym, but about kicking a football and playing sports like cricket.

‘A few lads who go along and play cricket then might decide to take up something like that forever, and we should encourage more and more people to do that.’

The council is carrying out a city-wide sports strategy and the objectives of the scheme were adopted at the latest culture meeting chaired by Cllr Symes.

The council is to ensure existing sport facilities are fit for use, and look to develop new places to enjoy activities.

A particular focus will be put on driving up sport participation, particularly among groups where sport levels are low, and promoting healthier habits.

More high-profile events focused on physical activity will also be created.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘The number of people playing amateur football in our city is getting lower and lower.

‘It’s a national problem.’