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£2m athletics base revamp as Blackburn Harriers celebrate Olympians
EAST Lancashire’s premier athletics club has finally seen the starting gun fired on a £2million revamp of its base.
As Blackburn Harriers prepare to celebrate the return of Olympic heroines Samantha Murray, Holly Bleasdale, and Sophie Hitchon, the borough council will today announce the long-awaited final go-ahead for the major renovation of their Witton Park home.
The scheme, under consideration since 2008, looked doomed in 2010 when the coalition’s cuts in local authority budgets began to bite.
Yesterday Blackburn with Darwen Council Labour leader Kate Hollern approved the upgrade and inked the £2million into the borough’s capital budget.
The successful Harriers trio will receive a civic reception in the town hall within weeks, it will also be announced.
Now the council will hold intensive talks with the club, hammering out the redevelopment details expected to include:
- A complete resurfacing of the outdoor running track, the first since 1984
- A new indoor track and training facility
- Improved drainage for the field events area
- Covered spectator seating The council and the Harriers are now devising the tribute to Clitheroe’s Samantha Murray, modern pentathlon silver medalist; Burnley’s Sophie Hitchon, hammer finalist; and Chorley’s Holly Bleasdale, sixth in the pole vault.
Coun Hollern said: “These young people are superb role models. We need to do everything we can to make sure their achievements are celebrated, and inspire the next generation. “ Harriers chairman Tony Wood said: “This is great and welcome news as we celebrate our athletes’ Oly mpic success. We are talking to the council about a range of options, including resurfacing of the main track, a new indoor training facility, covered seating for spectators, and new drain-age for the field sports area in the middle.”
Club secretary George Davies said: “It’s great to be so closely involved in exciting plans for the future of athletics in the borough.”
Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson said: “It is great news that East Lancashire’s premier athletics club can welcome home its Olympians with the pledge of new facilities for the future that befits their success.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council Tory opposition leader Michael Lee said: “I welcome this great news.”
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