Water sports centre under threat

Matt Blanchard teaches families to sail
Matt Blanchard teaches families to sail

A WATERSPORTS training centre which welcomes thousands of people through its doors is at risk of closure unless it can bridge a funding gap.

The Water Activity Centre, at Hartlepool Marina, offers training courses and activity sessions for young people aged between eight and 18 years old.

The centre, which is run by not-for-profit organisation the West View Project, also offers canoeing and kayaking sessions as well as hosting a number of fun days.

But activities may be brought to a swift end unless the centre receives some form of financial support.

West View Project staff say the centre is not one of their core projects and although they can afford to fund staffing and equipment, they can’t stretch to the £21,000 required for rent and utilities.

They have launched an urgent appeal for sponsors and support from residents in the town.

Chris Wise, West View Project development manager, said: “What the centre offers is absolutely fantastic to young people in the town, but we need to look at the situation sensibly.

“The West View Project wasn’t set up for the centre and we can only put towards it what we can afford.

“It is something that is used mainly by people in the town and it provides a very valuable service to youngsters both in terms of their personal development and not least in improving their water safety awareness, and we have received a lot of praise for our work.”

The Water Activity Centre’s current financial pressures have come after the Government scrapped the Working Neighbourhoods Fund.

The centre, which was taken over by the West View Project six years ago, also offers apprenticeship schemes which have helped youngsters gain their first taste of employment.

“The scrapping of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund has been a considerable blow to us and we are doing everything we can to generate further revenue,” added Chris.

“This includes running family watersports fun days on weekdays during the summer.

“What we are really hoping for is for sponsors to come forward to help us secure our long-term future.

“They would have the satisfaction of backing a quality team which is playing an important part in developing the skills and confidence of young people of all ages and backgrounds.”

For more information or to offer support, call the West View Project on (01429) 272699 or email westviewproject@btinternet.com.