Eviction leaves club high and dry
A sailing club is looking for a new base after being evicted from the lakeside site it has called home for the last 40 years.
Melton Mowbray Sailing Club's 120 members said they have been left high and dry by landlord Celtic Lakes, the owners of Frisby Water Park, near Asfordby.
The former quarry site, now an attractive country park by the River Wreake, has been home to the club since it was founded in 1970.
Mike Sharpe, the club's commodore, said that members had been given just two weeks notice.
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"We were told on August 20 that we had to quit the site by September 1," he said.
"It's not much time at all, especially considering how long we've been there."
Members held a protest on Saturday as they cleared out the last of the boats and equipment.
Mr Sharpe, 70, said: "We are still reeling from what's happening to us and many people are extremely upset.
"There were about 100 boats at the boathouse and it has been incredibly difficult to shift everything we've accumulated over the years."
Melton Borough Council has offered secure storage for the club's two rescue boats, with Melton's Sysonby Knoll Hotel and a local farm providing temporary homes for other boats.
Mr Sharpe said: "We're working with the borough council to find an alternative venue and also talking to other sailing clubs about the possibility of affiliating with them in some way, but we're in a bit of a hole."
John Carney, of Celtic Lakes, bought the 100-acre beauty spot last year and is investing £10 million in turning the site into a luxury fishing resort with 59 holiday lodges.
Mr Sharpe said at the time they had hoped to remain an integral part of the site and complement the development.
The club has sought legal advice, but will not fight the decision as it did not have a formal lease.
"It was a gentlemen's agreement, which we obviously rue now," said Mr Sharpe.
Mr Carney declined the opportunity to comment when approached.
The club had been involved in a borough-wide initiative to promote sport, with more than 100 people attending an Olympic legacy event in August.
Mr Sharpe said: "At a time when the whole country is celebrating the success of Team GB at the Olympics, we think it is tragic that a valuable sports facility should be lost to the people of Melton."
Joe Orson, councillor for the borough's Old Dalby ward, said: "This is a kick in the teeth for a fine sporting club and a major disappointment as we are looking to build a lasting Olympic legacy."
Alan Pearson, chairman of Active Melton, a sports alliance working with the district council and national bodies to promote sport in the area, said: "It's a crying shame. I think that the decision to evict the sailing club is shortsighted.
"It goes to show how vital it is for clubs to make sure they have a formal lease agreement with their landlord."