Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Southend cheerleading squad fights for new home
9:20am Sunday 17th June 2012 in Southend
A CHEERLEADING squad with international hopefuls has vowed to fight for permission to open a specialist training school in Southend.
Four teams are set to travel to Bournemouth for the international cheerleading championships on June 29, and the Essex Stars expected to be rehearsing in the new centre, on the Temple Farm Industrial Estate, before then.
Instead, the 60 competing members have to train on a badminton court at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre, in Garon Park, which is hired at an hourly fee.
Coach Rachel Blatch, 25, said: “We have four competing squads and more than 90 people who currently train with us.
“Our centre needs to be in an industrial building because we need height for all of our flips, and it needs to be in Southend so everyone can get to training easily.
“I don’t know what we will do if this gets rejected again. I just about make enough money to cover our rent at the moment.”
Southend Council rejected the Essex Stars’ plans to transform the empty unit into a training centre over parking concerns.
The council also said the loss of an industrial facility could be detrimental to the town’s economy.
But Miss Blatch says she will recruit ten full-time and six part-time staff and is now re-submitting her application.
They have already paid a holding fee to secure the building and are ready to sign the lease, but the problem with planning permission has set the scheme back two months.
Miss Blatch, of Hamlet Road, Southend, set up Essex Stars after graduating from the University of Essex, and quit her full-time job when the cheerleading classes grew in popularity.
She added: “I love what I do, but we really need to move into our own building.
“Other dance and martial arts groups are really interested in using the premises so it will be great for Southend.”
Anyone interested in joining Essex Stars should call 07816 909896 or visit www.essexstars. wordpress.com