St Ives shooting club in the sights over refurbishment

ONE of St Ives’s sporting �institutions is in the firing line because of a leisure centre refurbishment.

ONE of St Ives’ sporting institutions fears its days are numbered after finding itself in the firing line during a leisure centre refurbishment.

Plans for a re-fit of the town’s One Leisure centre do not include a shooting range, meaning that St Ives (District) Rifle and Pistol Club needs to find a new home.

The refurbishment proposals are due to be discussed at a Huntingdonshire District Council cabinet meeting in April, and honorary club secretary Terry Smith said the loss of the range, if approved, could sound the death-knell for the club.

“It would be a devastating loss to the club – in all probability leading to the club’s demise.

“We are a vibrant club with over 60 members, and we regularly host supervised visits from the Scouts, disability groups and even on occasion the blind. All that would be lost if these plans go ahead.”

Huntingdonshire District Council contacted the club in late December to warn that plans to reconfigure the inside of One Leisure St Ives would see a six-lane bowling built within the confines of the existing range.

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Since then, the shooting club has been gathering support for its cause, including four shooting associations, the Countryside Alliance and Sport England.

Mr Smith said he was surprised that HDC had not consulted the club over relocating its facilities, even in reduced form.

“If the current proposals are accepted in full, we are to be evicted with no thought of re-provision or even any chance of relocation,” said Mr Smith, who added that sharing military or police ranges was not an option.

The club, which started life as the Home Guard Rifle Club after World War Two, has its own rifles and armoury, offering beginners an easy way to get a taste of the sport without having to commit to expensive equipment purchases.

A move would mean that members with their own firearms certificates would have to relocate to another club to retain their rifles – with the nearest facilities in Kimbolton, Cambridge or Peterborough – but Mr Smith believes it would be the end of youth involvement in the sport in Huntingdonshire.

“Club members, particularly the youth, would be unlikely to travel long distances to another club. There is no alternative local range and certainly no alternate armoury possibility,” he said.

A spokesman for HDC confirmed that the proposals for the leisure centre contained no range facilities, but that nothing had been finalised ahead of the meeting of the full cabinet in April.

“Nothing has been decided. It will be a hard decision, but one that will made after discussions at cabinet.”