£1m athletics venue plan on track, thanks to Lotto grant

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PLANS to build a £1m athletics venue in Morpeth are on track, thanks to a grant of more than £400,000.

The £443,000 National Lottery grant, handed out by Sport England, means work can now get under way on a new six-lane synthetic running track and associated facilities at the town’s King Edward VI High School.

The track will be used by the Morpeth Harriers athletics club, students at the school and other south east Northumbrians.

Besides the track, improvements are being lined up to changing rooms and paths and an access ramp to ensure the new facilities are fully accessible to disabled users.

Funding has also been secured for a new synthetic surface for the school’s existing shale all-weather sports area.

Work has been carried out by the school on four football pitches and their drainage too.

Northumberland County Council is spending £375,000 on the project, plus another £40,000 from its Aiming High fund.

The Cottingwood Lane school is contributing £175,000, and Morpeth Harriers is chipping in with £11,000.

Coun Jim Smith, the county council executive member responsible for leisure, said: “This is fantastic news for this very worthwhile project, which will benefit Morpeth and surrounding communities.

“There has been a lot of detailed work to get to this stage, but this is a great result, and we look forward to working with the school and the Harriers and other user groups towards successful completion of the work.”

The project means that the athletic club will have its own track for the first time in more than 20 years and will no longer have to travel to Jarrow to stage home league games.

Club secretary Mike Bateman said: “This is great news that we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It gives ourselves and the other athletic clubs in the area the facilities to be able to develop athletes across a full range of events.”

The multi-sports synthetic surface is coming from the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre in Buckinghamshire and will be used for PE lessons at the school as well as for competitive hockey.

Headteacher Simon Taylor said: “King Edward’s is delighted with the successful outcome of this project.

“Working in partnership with Morpeth Harriers will benefit both the school and members of the community.

“Improvements to our sports facilities have been a high priority for governors for a number of years, and the arrival of the athletics track and the synthetic pitch, along with the improvements to our football pitches, are a significant step forward.”

Sport England chairman Richard Lewis added: “The new Morpeth multi-sport project will provide a range of state-of-the-art athletics facilities in the very heart of the community.”

“Sport England is delighted to be supporting the project and is confident that it will become a beacon site for people wanting to make sport a regular part of their daily lives.”