LEISURE centre bosses have called foul over plans for a sporting centre of excellence.

Roefield Leisure Centre, a registered charity, says Ribble Valley Council's plans to build six floodlit tennis and sports courts on an adjoining site would seriously compromise its operation and jeopardise its £1.1million Lottery bid.

It also feels an announcement should have been delayed until a joint meeting had been held between the two parties and a Government sports agency officer with a view to amalgamating the two schemes.

But the council claims its £410,000 plans to expand outdoor tennis, netball, football and rugby facilities, would complement the Roefield facilities.

The leisure centre wants to use the site occupied by the ageing changing rooms. The council owns the land but has agreed to release it for the centre's use.

New activities would include cricket, bowls and basketball.

The centre receives grants of £17,000 annually in addition to £5,000 from the town council. It feels the development planned by the council will steal users off its five-a-side football and netball facilities.

In the six years since new manager Tony Rodia joined Roefield, public use has increased from 25,000 per year to 140,000 per year. He said the subsidy provided by the council works out at just 11p per person, compared to more than £2 per person towards its own run swimming pool.

Before a recent meeting of the council's community committee which voted in support of the council's Edisford scheme, Ron Pickup, chairman of the Ribble Valley Sport and Recreation Association, on behalf of the trustees, wrote a letter to members outlining his concerns.

He was particularly worried that members would not see what he believed would be a devastating blow to Roefield and its future as a self-sufficient sports concern. He said: "The notion that what is planned will not impinge on operations at Roefield, is naive, or more likely, simply ignores inconvenient facts.

"Your officers are well aware that substantial income is generated at Roefield from five-a-side football, netball, hockey and so on. This income may well be appreciably affected by what is proposed."

Council tourism and leisure officer Chris Hughes said the committee voted to approve the council's own plans for Edisford on the basis that they would not compromise Roefield's bid for Lottery funding and would not provide conflicting facilities.

"We are in support of Roefield and are meeting with them and Sport England to discuss their ways to secure funding.

"The council denies claims of lack of support and welcomes the expansion plans, but no one from the leisure centre has approached us for financial support. That is something we are prepared to discuss with them," he said.