DOUBT OVER THAMES WATER SPORTS CENTRE FUTURE

 

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A question mark hangs over a water sports centre on the Thames - nearly a year after it was suddenly closed.

Members of the the RAF Water Sports Centre at Danesfield upstream from Hurley say they have been given no explanation for the closure or an indication if it will reopen.

The RAF says the closure is due to insurance and administration problems. Over the past 11 months only the RAF's elite rowing and canoeing squads have used the facilities on an occasional basis.

The centre had been open to members of the RAF, RAF veterans, MoD civilians and their families. When the sudden closure was announced boats had to be moved from moorings and personal possessions removed from the premises within a fortnight.

The chairman of River User Group 6 (Henley to Maidenhead) Bob King said "As a member of the club  I was hopeful that whatever was the reason for the closure of the club to its members  would be resolved by now – almost a year on there is no sign of that happening. 

"No one is allowed to renew their membership and the committee has been disbanded. This is a major blow for the club members, especially the loss of some 27 permanent mooring spaces for motor cruisers, all of which have had to find alternative moorings at short notice somewhere else.

"There will no longer be any sailing, paddle boarding, motor boating or swimming activities conducted in this reach of the river.  The future for the substantial waterfront moorings at the site is uncertain."

The ground has belonged to the Ministry of Defence since the Second World War and originally provided facilities for rowing and sailing for its personnel based at nearby RAF Medmenham.  In 1982 the club received a grant to modernise and improve the facilities by including not only sailing and rowing but also canoeing and motor boating activities.

Two years ago plans were submitted for a further grant to adapt the club facility for use by disabled servicemen and women returning from operational areas overseas. The RAF refused the grant and so these plans were shelved.

River Thames News understands that the closure followed an audit by the trustees to ensure that the site met current regulations. The audit's findings have not been revealed but shortly afterwards the centre was closed.

This week the centre's website was still offering a range of activities: "sited on an idyllic stretch of the River Thames between Marlow and Henley, .... a unique facility run by the Royal Air Force for serving and retired personnel, and their families, with a mission to 'Promote well-being, personal and force development through sporting activity.' "

An RAF spokesman said: "Danesfield remains available for supervised water based pursuits such as canoeing & rowing for military personnel but is no longer operating as a social club or available to non–military personnel due to administrative constraints".

Story dated Feb 8th 2016