We have been talking about holding an extraordinary
general meeting to finalise the 100m range for some months now, but our efforts
have repeatedly been halted by Coronavirus and the restrictions announced by
government on mass gatherings. Even now, gatherings for functions like weddings and funerals are restricted to just 30 guests, so our plan for an EGM has to be shelved.
Instead, we had hoped to hold the vote on the final decision on the 100m range as part of the Annual General Meeting in October, but even that is now impossible given the “rule of six” introduced this week.
We need to bring this matter to a conclusion one way or the other, so our only option currently is to undertake an electronic ballot on this important matter. There simply is no other easy and viable way of achieving this given the current state of social interaction and likely duration of the restrictions.
The Committee, over a number of months now, have agonised about the potential difficulties the Club could face as we approach the deadline for commencing the works, and in our August meeting we took the decision to share our Committee view with members, ahead of the final vote on the new development planned for the AGM in October.
Whilst there has been an enormous amount of effort, time and indeed money spent getting us to this point, there are significant risks associated with the 100m range development which we feel we must highlight to members, and in doing so, the Committee decided to recommend to members, to REJECT the plan for the 100m range and to vote No in the upcoming ballot on this important issue. The reasons for this are outlined below:
1. Planning Permission Restrictions
East Cambs District Council have approved our application to build a 100m range with the following restrictions imposed:
• Paragraph 3 - The development permitted by this planning permission shall only be carried out in accordance with the approved ITSC Outdoor Shooting Range Complex Noise Management Plan dated October 2017.
Comment – this means that noise from the site as a whole, including vehicle movements, must be controlled to keep noise levels down. Any noise complaints must be reported to the council who will have the right of immediate sanction against the club
• Paragraph 7 - The use hereby permitted shall take place only between the hours of 10:00 - 19:00 each day Monday to Saturday and 10:00 - 16:00 on Sundays and none on Bank or Public Holidays.
Comment – shooting currently takes place from 9.00am each day so will not be allowed before 10.00am in future. We believe this restriction applies only to the firearms ranges
Comment – shooting currently happens all through the year except for Christmas Day. This restriction would prevent shooting on a further 7 days during the year, and we believe applies only to the firearms ranges
• Paragraph 8 - The maximum number of active shooters on the site shall be limited to eight.
Comment – currently, our range safety certificate allows for 10 shooters on the 25m range and 2 on the 50m range, although traditionally we have limited the 25m range to 8 shooters. This would reduce main range capacity to four if the ranges are used at the same time, or we would have to run main range shoots in the morning and 100m range shoots in the afternoon to offset this restriction.
The permission and restrictions are very much focussed on protection of residential amenities against noise and disruption, and it was these areas which were mostly objected to by local residents. It is therefore highly likely that the council will be keen to ensure our compliance with our own noise plan and be quite strict with us enforcing compliance.
2. The Lease
We have also secured a formalised lease after many years of an informal arrangement. Our landlord, Mick George, has agreed a lease of 20 years with 5 year break clauses which effectively means the land could be required for return after just 5 years. Obviously there is no way of knowing what decisions the landlord may take in the future, so this is something that we need to consider for the future.
Additionally, the lease requires in Section 13 Returning the property to the landlord that the club has to return the land to a state the landlord is happy with at the end of the lease. At worst, this could be after 5 years, at best it could be 20 years. Whatever the duration, it could be viewed that the land is contaminated by lead - the club could therefore be faced with a significant bill to cover the cost of restoring the land to its former state.
3. Other issues
Budget – the anticipated budget for the construction of the range is £30-40k. Whilst we haven’t undertaken a full costing at this point, anecdotal evidence suggests the cost will be in excess of £50k, a significant drain on club reserves whilst also having to maintain and potentially improve our existing 25m and 50m ranges due to anticipated noise challenges.
Housing developments – the new housing developments are getting closer and closer to our complex. With this encroachment it is almost inevitable that noise complaints will increase from new neighbours unless we are able to mitigate our noise level in some way. Regular noise monitoring will be a must, and actions to avoid noise sanctions will have to be taken to maintain the viability of the club. A large expenditure on a 100m range might not be the best course as we potentially face having to make significant changes to our existing structures to mitigate our noise levels.
Risks – financial risks extend widely. The cost of the construction of the new range is still unclear. Dilapidation expenses attached to restoring the lands upon cessation of the lease are unquantifiable at present. Noise mitigation works on our existing facilities will be needed as the housing gets closer to us, and this will cover the entire site. These three key unknown factors create a financial risk to the club which if we do nothing to ensure adequate cover for, will undoubtedly render the club insolvent.
The 100m range has been the talk of the club for a good number of years now. We have never been closer to its being reality, and as Jon said once in a committee meeting, this will probably be the last chance we have to do this. Our planning authority expires in February 2021 so we need to make a final decision on this.
Would we like a 100m range ? Of course we would, but that can’t be at the cost of all else. Would we use a 100m range ? Maybe, maybe not. The utilisation of the 50m range is pretty low, and the club now has regular shoots at external venues that are extremely well supported. Would a 100m range put an end to those shoots ? Definitely not.
We are actually in a privileged position - to have a dilemma such as this just goes to show how the club has developed over the years. In making a recommendation to members to Reject the development, the Committee understand that we are in a position of leadership for the Club, and sometimes leadership calls for making difficult decisions, and this has been a tough decision.
For the reasons already highlighted above, we genuinely do not feel that this is in the best interests of the Isle Target Sports Club, and when we put this to the vote in October, we recommend that members Reject the plan to build a new 100m range at our Mepal complex and vote No in the upcoming ballot on this important issue.
5. The vote
We want you to have as much opportunity as possible to consider the information, discuss with fellow members, ask more questions if you have them, reach an informed decision, so the timetable for the vote will be as follows:
* Electronic voting process issued Monday 21 September
* Electronic voting closes at midnight Sunday 11 October
* Results of electronic voting publicised to members during the week of 12 October
If you have any questions on this important issue please do get in contact to test or clarify your understanding and feel free to discuss this with any of the committee to help your understanding.
Once you have all the information you need, please
cast your vote by following this link - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ITSC100m
Please make sure you contribute to this important decision for the Club. The ballot consists of just 4 questions so will take less than a minute to complete.
The Club Constitution provides voting rights to all members except family and social members so you are asked to confirm your membership type in the ballot - any family or social member casting votes will have to be removed from the final count.
We’ve made the key documentation available for you to examine as you wish - you can find them below.
Acting ITSC Chairman
These documents are: