LETTER: Village sports need cash, too

From Mrs K. M. Bussell

Sir: I listened with growing incredulity, a sense of frustration, and anger to the news that Eton had been awarded pounds 3m of National Lottery money to enhance its meagre facilities of two swimming pools, 30 cricket squares and 24 hockey, football and rugby pitches. No doubt it will be applying soon for a centre of excellence.

Our little leisure centre, situated in the village of Etwall in the northern parishes of south Derbyshire, which has one small pool, two squash courts, and tennis courts, all of which need refurbishment, is in danger of closing down because of a pounds 25,000 shortfall caused by an omission in the Education Act of 1986.

We cash-starved rural communities feel a sense of outrage that elite establishments such as Eton and Clifton colleges, who already have so much, have benefited from substantial amounts of Lottery cash. Especially when you consider the first job of the day for the staff at our little complex is, quite literally, to put the begging bowl out.

The community is very busy organising fund-raising events and the parish councils have offered financial support within the limited resources available to them. All this hard work has gained a stay of execution till spring 1996.

Unless we get some sound financial backing, we rural communities shall be putting into practise what John Major is often saying we must do, and that is to "go back to basics". If we fail in our bid to secure a future for our leisure centre, all that will be left for us is the duck pond opposite the leisure centre entrance, and you cannot get more basic than that.

Yours sincerely,

K. M. Bussell

Etwall Leisure Centre

Action Group

Mickleover, Derbyshire