A CANOE club fighting to secure a new home says it has renewed confidence after getting more than 800 signatures from members of the public.

Members of Abingdon's Kingfisher Canoe Club collected a total of 826 signatures for their campaign in the town centre on Saturday.

They now have more than 1,000 in total – more than enough to trigger an official debate by Vale of White Horse District Council on the issue.

Youth development officer David Surman, 68, said: "Saturday went really well.

"The people of Abingdon are totally behind us, there is a tremendous amount of support."

At stake is a small corner land on the banks of the Thames in Abingdon's Rye Meadow.

The canoe club, which has 140 members aged 11 to 70, was forced to leave its home of 25 years in October.

It came more than 18 months after the club was served an eviction notice by the Army Rowing Club, with which it shared the Wilsham Road site.

The club said it identified a 'perfect' new base in the northern corner of Rye Meadow, and even won planning permission to build its new base, but the plan collapsed: Vale of White Horse District Council, which administers the land, said there was a legal problem over it leasing the site to the club.

Although the exact sticking point is obscure, the canoe club says it has been advised by its legal team that the problem can be overcome, if only the council would 'recognise that there is a commonly-used legal solution to this problem'.

The club's petition calls on the council to properly debate the issues to, hopefully, find a solution.

Now the members hope that with such a strong public backing, councillors will see the public benefit in getting over the legal obstacles.

Mr Surman said: "I think we'll speak to the council next week, then probably keep the petition going and present it to them at the beginning of January.

"We really just want to remind the councillors what a dire position we're in: we are the only youth service of our kind in Oxfordshire and we're doing it all for free, and I think that's why people in the Market Square were so supportive."

Mr Shurman said it was 'critical' the club found a new home before outdoor sessions started next year or a 'generation of members would be lost'.

Vale council spokesman Andy Roberts told this paper previously that the council had worked hard to help the club and investigated a number of locations.

He said: "Unfortunately, all the locations investigated in our ownership had legal issues that prevented them from being used for the club’s needs.

"We granted planning permission in our capacity as planning authority – all applicants are responsible for identifying that there are no other restrictions on the site."

Find out more and sign the petition at kingfishercanoeclub.co.uk