HUNDREDS of people have put their names to a petition calling for the lottery to reconsider its decision not to fund £1.6 million of improvements to sports facilities in Otley.

Town Mayor Councillor John Eveleigh launched the petition last week after Sport England Lottery Fund turned down the bid to improve facilities, most notably the run-down Thomas Chippendale swimming


Coun Eveleigh said: "Lots of people have spoken to me and agreed that it is a disgrace and have already been signing the petition at the Civic Centre and at the Wharfedale Observer offices. I am hoping that more names are going on as we


"If we can get a couple of thousand names on the petition, Sport England may sit up and take notice and see that there is widespread backing from the community."

The bid was turned down for a number of reasons, including poor value for money, lack of support from the community, weak sports

development plans and question marks about the project's long-term viability.

Coun Eveleigh said that he hoped to be in Otley market place on Saturday morning in a bid to get more names on his petition.

He will also be meeting with Coun Tom Murray (Lab, Garforth and Swillington), who has responsibility for Leeds City Council's Leisure Services Department, to discuss an appeal.

"We think the six or seven points raised in the lottery's report are at the very least arguable," he said.

"Some senior councillors have told me that the appeal process is often much more favourable and that there is a reasonable chance of success through this process."

Meanwhile, Otley Liberal Democrats are calling on Leeds to step in and fund the refurbishment of sports facilities at Prince Henry's, possibly from the £300,000 set aside by the council to match-fund the


Leeds City Council council paid £27,000 to a private firm to put the bid together and town councillor Colin Campbell said: "Five years ago Leeds claimed to have sufficient money to do the work, but they decided to spend the money elsewhere and rely on a lottery bid instead.

"It is no use blaming lottery administrators for following the bid rules. We believe Leeds has to take responsibility for the poor bid they made and it is up to them to now fund the repairs."

A Leeds Leisure Services spokesman was unable to comment.

l Fears for Otley Swimming Club's future - P5.

l Guisley joy and village appeals for lottery loot. - P5.

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