ATHLETICS has received a cautious vote of confidence from Vale Royal Borough Council, which appears to be inching its way at last towards backing a new running track.
The current poor facilities in the borough have started to affect its athletics club, one of the most successful of its kind in the country.
The council will spend about £2,800 on a full technical investigation at Knights Grange, where the plan is to replace the existing shale track with an artificial surface.
The cost of the facility would be about £375,000, but in the two years since former international athlete and borough councillor Brian Hall launched his campaign for a new track in the borough, scant progress has been made.
Cllr Hall's campaign itself came at least 10 years after the council actually acknowledged the need for a new track.
He said: 'We have taken expert advice on the cost and the figure would be for a six-lane track and eight-lane sprint straight.
'All the council has spent on the track in 30 years is £10,000 for new lights, that's less than a penny a day!
'All we need is a commitment from the council so it can go after outside funding as they have done in other counties across the country.'
Hall is also a coach with Vale Royal AC and added: 'We have got 350 members now.
'With a new track the opportunities for youngsters would be sky high and the membership would rocket.
'But all this fighting does get me down.'
The club has no facilities for throwing or jumping events and with artificial tracks now the norm rather than a luxury, they are entirely without any of necessaries demanded by their sport.
Meanwhile, as Hall and others warned, the lack of facilities in the borough has led to defections, with VRAC's promising sprinters joining other clubs.
'They had to be ferried to other clubs to use some proper facilities,' said Hall.
'But there is no reason why any section of the club cannot be built up and succeed if there is a proper facility. You can't do it without. Otherwise we will just be a middle distance club.
'Athletics officials have pointed out to the council the desperate need for a new track because of the success of our club and, of course, none of the local schools have access to decent facilities either.
'I became involved in Vale Royal's strategy for sport as the 1999-2003 plan was coming to an end. In that a new track was deemed necessary. I have asked and asked when we are having a new strategy, but nothing ever happens.'