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Table tennis club pings towards building ownership

Published: Thursday, 20th June 2019

A table tennis club is set to be given the go-ahead to take on the running of its current home on a permanent basis – as part of an asset transfer with Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

MESC Table Tennis Club moved to Boothen Neighbourhood Centre last year after the building had stood empty for five years, in which time it became a target for anti-social behaviour. They had been renting the building from the council, but the authority’s cabinet will meet on Tuesday, June 25 where they are expected to rubber-stamp handing over the management of the building to the group on a 25-year lease.

It would be the latest bout of good news for the club, which recently received an £18,600 grant from the council’s Community Investment Fund. They are one of 142 groups, clubs and organisations across the city to receive a share of the £3 million fund, which was launched in 2017 to make a difference to communities. They are using the money to improve security and parking at the building, removing an internal wall to increase the playing area and buy new equipment.

The club, which has been in existence for almost 60 years, boasts four professional coaches and nine tables. Members range from under 10 to over 80 years old and the ability level ranges from beginners to people who play in the national league. They have set up an over-55s seniors group called Bat and Chat who use the venue on Thursday mornings, and coaching for under-16s at weekends. The club also has a number of disabled users and members from Hungary, Slovakia, Hong Kong and China.

Malcolm Dawson, chairman of MESC Table Tennis Club, said: “Everyone at the club is delighted to have reached this point, and we’re thankful to the council for working with us. The asset transfer will mean we have a permanent home to play league table tennis, can develop talented young players through our coaching programme and develop links to the wider community.

“The arrangement with the council will also mean we can invest in the fabric of the building, which had been empty since 2013, in order to make it fit for purpose and a fantastic community asset that is open seven days a week.”

Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for communities and safer city, said: “It’s great to see communities becoming more empowered and looking to breathe new life into local spaces and properties, and we’re really keen to support these types of community initiatives.

“This is a fantastic project which is focused on getting people of all ages involved and that’s why transferring the building is a good move for all sides. It takes away some pressure from the council in the ever-increasing tough financial climate, but benefits the community enormously at the same time and gives residents a big say in improving their area. I look forward to seeing how the club progresses and wish them the best of luck for the future.”

For all media enquiries please contact the press team at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987 (journalists only).