PEOPLE are being offered grants to set up clubs at sports centres in Harwich and Brightlingsea.

Councillors and fitness fanatics were left shocked last year after it was revealed Tendring Council’s agreement to run Harwich Sports Centre and Brightlingsea Sports Centre would not be renewed.

The council managed community use arrangements at the sites, based at Harwich and Dovercourt High School and the Colne School, costing the authority £147,000 each year.

The council agreed to let the agreements expire and the sites are now operated by the Sigma Trust, which runs the schools, although some councillors are unhappy that opening hours have been reduced at weekends and evenings.

But Tendring Council has now announced that it is making grants available for people looking to set up sports clubs in Harwich and Brightlingsea.

It said to help increase use of the amenities, support is being given to create clubs which can do block bookings.

Applications are open for financial support with this process, which can help to cover costs such as national affiliation, insurance or training for club officers.

Grants of up to £500 are available, but allocations of more significant funds will be decided in consultation with cabinet members.

Alex Porter, the council's cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said the grants were part of the council’s commitment to a smooth transition of operations at the two amenities.

“The community is best placed to make arrangements which suit them, but often a formal club structure is required for such things; by helping them to set up clubs, we’re playing our part in continuing sport activity in Brightlingsea and Harwich,” he said.

“While we are already in contact with many sports centre users about this support and guidance, there is still the opportunity for others to come forward and apply for these grants, and I would urge people to do so.”

The council said it has also agreed to gift equipment from Brightlingsea and Harwich sports centres to Sigma Trust as part of the transitional arrangements it put in place.

To apply for a grant, visit and complete a form.