Ashfield MP wants 'sensible solution' to Sutton Sailing Club saga

Ashfield’s new MP Lee Anderson has said he wants to see “plenty of goodwill” between Ashfield District Council and an at-risk sailing club.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 12:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 3:50 pm

Sutton-in-Ashfield Sailing Club is fearing for its future after the council revealed plans to introduce a pay-and-display car park at its King’s Mill Reservoir site – risking losing the land where it keeps its boats.

A 2,000-strong petition has been launched to stop the car park plans, with the club calling on the authority to think again before “essentially closing one of the area’s oldest non-profit volunteer groups”.

The club claims the council is planning to raise its rents “by 4,000 per cent” by renewing its lease agreement at the site, leading to the authority issuing a statement to “set the record straight”.

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Volunteers at Sutton-in-Ashfield Sailing Club prepare a boat before taking it onto King's Mill Reservoir.

And now Lee Anderson, who was elected as MP last month, has called on both sides to “get around the same table” and come to an agreement.

He said: “I have met with the sailing club and the council separately to see if there is a way through this situation.

“The sailing club raised several concerns about their long-term future, including car parking charges and storage space.

“I raised this directly with the council who said they were keen to come to a suitable agreement. The next step is for us all to get around the same table to discuss a solution that suits everyone.

“I am sure that with plenty of goodwill from all sides that we will get a solution that keeps everyone happy.”

The car park plans would see land where the club houses its boat taken over by the authority in order to introduce the pay-and-display car park, however the first hour would be free.

It would accompany the new cafe and visitor centre currently under construction, and help bring additional income to the site.

Theresa Hodgkinson, director of place and communities at the council, said: “The current sailing club lease expired in October 2019.

“Before this, the council met with the club and communicated with them many times, to look at new arrangements for a lease which would allow the club to continue to support their 48 active members from across the region.

“Council officers have been working closely with the club to ensure we continue to support them being able to fully use our site.”

Sarah Cadwallader, secretary of the club, told the Chad: “We’ve sent an impact assessment to the council saying what the club does for the local community, especially in terms of access to sailing for people from a variety of backgrounds across the locality, and they’ve just not been interested.

“They have ignored us and they are taking the land off us basically to turn it into a pay and display car park which means everybody will have to pay to park at the res and we will struggle to function as a club.

“The support from the local community has been fantastic. Our petition is currently at 2,000 signatures and climbing.”