Snooker pro Ashley Carty says North Notts Arena closure would be ‘catastrophic’

An up-and-coming professional snooker player coached at North Notts Arena from the age of 12 says it would be ‘catastrophic’ if the vital community venue closed.

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 5:00 pm

Ashley Carty - who qualified for a place in the World Snooker Championship last week - told how ‘without them I would never have achieved what I’ve achieved’.

The talented player, who beat top 16 player Robert Milkins 10-8 in the ‘biggest match’ of his life, described how the centre’s junior academy paid for taxis from school to the Worksop centre and even fed him free meals during practice.

North Notts Arena general manager Nigel Turner told the Guardian last month how the venue ‘will be lucky’ to survive the summer period - with numbers permitted to use the building almost halved by Covid-19 safety restrictions.

Ashley Carty in 2015 after winning Worksop Snooker League knockout for the third consecutive year

The arena is fighting for survival through a fundraising campaign after being turned down for a discretionary council grant worth up to £25,000 because the building’s rateable value - £153,000 - was too high.

Ashley, 25, who told how he and fellow professional player Hayden Staniland were among 30 other junior players who trained at the arena every Saturday morning, said its academy provided ‘amazing opportunities’ for young talent.

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He said: “It would be a real shame if it (North Notts Arena) closed because they do a lot for the local community - not just for snooker players.

Steve Davis at the junior academy's annual presentation

“They provide so much, like bowls, the gym classes, football and tennis - and they do a lot of charity functions.

“People are kept off the streets and active because of them and without them there’s no way I would have had the opportunities I’ve been given.”

Last month manager Nigel Turner slammed Bassetlaw Council for ‘penalising’ the registered charity and failing to exercise a right of discretion over the council fund.

The grant is designed to help small businesses with rateable values of under £100,000 which have not qualified for any other form of Government financial help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ken Doherty visiting the junior academy in 2017

Nigel said: “If Bassetlaw District Council wanted to support the arena, clearly they could - so why not?”

However the county council branded Nigel’s ‘assertion’ that the council was able to choose to support the arena as ‘misleading’.

David Hill, the council’s interim director of corporate resources, said: “There are around 52 businesses who would be potentially eligible for support if the grant threshold was raised above £150,000.

Ashley Carty, right, in 2011

“To single out the arena for special treatment at their expense would be both wrong and unethical.”

Nigel, 65, who took over the running of the arena in 2006 as registered charity North Notts Community Leisure Ltd, said last month: “It amazes me and many others that our district council cannot see the value in supporting our community via the arena.”

The arena - which had hoped to reopen on July 25 along with leisure centres across the country - currently remains closed while awaiting the results of a grant application to The Big Lottery.

And speaking about a crowdfunding campaign launched to save the precious centre Nigel said: “We won’t go down without a fight.”

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