Mayor of Felixstowe Mike Deacon tries out a new gun for use by visually-impaired and blind shooters at the Felixstowe Rifle Club, watched by Dennis Wood; Norman Thompson, of East Suffolk Blind, and mayoress Anne Deacon.
BY RICHARD CORNWELL, Felixstowe editor
Thursday, November 1, 2012
RIFLE club members in Felixstowe are today faced with raising significant grants to help pay half the cost of a new state-of-the-art clubhouse and shooting range.
After 70 years at its present site, the century-old Felixstowe Rifle Club is being evicted to make way for 170 new homes and a Tesco superstore development.
Landowners Trinity College, Cambridge, have pledged to help the club – which has produced national champions and is one of the few in the country to have facilities for blind people to be able to shoot – find a new home to secure its long-term future, but funding for the project is by no means certain.
The wealthy college needs the club to move from its home in Walton High Street, to allow the 30-acre Walton Green scheme to take place.
Tim Collins, a partner in Bidwells which manages the Trimley Estate for Trinity, said a new site for the club had been identified on college land in the Blofield area of Trimley St Mary with the promise of matched-funding.
“It is hoped to submit a planning application at the end of November with the idea to replicate the facilities the club has at the moment,” he said.
“We have had preliminary discussions with statutory bodies and also done a presentation to the parish council to explain the project, and completed various studies in relation to an application which is being finalised at the moment.”
Detailed costings still needed to be completed but the college had agreed in principle to match-funding and once planning consent is decided, the rifle club would be able to apply for grants from various organisations, including the Sport England.
“It is a partnership approach to find a solution and the college is determined to help secure the long-term future of the club with facilities which can be supported at a national level within the sport,” said Mr Collins.
Bill Bond, vice chairman of the rifle club, which has around 100 members and has been using the Walton site since the second world war, said: “We would prefer not to move. We have been in discussions for a long time but at the moment nothing is confirmed.
“We have no idea how much this will cost until the final designs are complete, and until there is outline planning we are unable to approach anyone for grants.”