TIME is running out for a canoe club to find a new permanent home before outdoor lessons are due to resume in the spring.

Kingfisher Canoe Club, and its youth division Pathfinders, packed up and left its Abingdon home of 25 years in October.

David Surman, the club’s youth development officer, said members were feeling more hopeful after a petition, calling on the Vale of White Horse District Council to rent the club land for a new home, was discussed by councillors last week but were still ‘in the dark’ about how to move forward.

The petition, first presented to the authority in December, was signed by more than 1,300 people.

Councillors voted to refer the matter to the authority’s cabinet, which will next meet in April.

But Mr Surman said this is not soon enough, explaining: “We need to be back on the water by then so the hope is we can have some communication with the council before the official meeting to know where we stand.

“There are some things we are looking at that may allow us to continue on a temporary basis but all they are is a stop gap and aren’t a long term solution.

“What we need is a permanent and sustainable base and we believe we’ve already found it. It just needs the council to make it happen.”

It is now more than 18 months since the club, which has 140 members aged from 11 to 70, was served an eviction notice by the Army Rowing Club, with which it previously shared a site at Wilsham Road.

The club, which has been operating for more than 40 years in Abingdon, had several stays of execution but members were finally forced to move the 60 canoes they kept at the site at the end of October, some of which are now stored more than 30 miles away.

The club had identified a ‘perfect’ new base in the northern corner of Rye Meadow, but its attempt to move there collapsed last year.

Planning permission for the Rye Meadow site, which is owned by South Oxfordshire District Council but administered by Vale of White Horse District Council, was approved in October 2016.

But in April the club was told that it would no longer be possible, legally, for the authority to provide a lease for the site.

Earlier this month Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran added her backing to the canoe club’s cause saying: “I think what they do is amazing, we have this fantastic river that we don’t make as much use of as we could.

“I don’t feel it is unreasonable what the club are asking and I would urge the council to at least communicate more with the group so it can be a positive relationship.”

Mr Surman said he was thankful for the “tremendous” support locally.

He added: “People have been incredible and councillors were really positive at Wednesday’s meeting as well but what we now need is some action.

“We have had five different legal opinions on this and they all say it is possible to find a solution to the problem. It shouldn’t be this hard to make this happen.”

A spokesperson for Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We remain supportive of Kingfisher Canoe Club in its search for a new home after the loss of their previous one.

“We’ve helped to investigate a number of potential sites throughout the process, and the council’s cabinet will now be discussing the subject as we continue to support the canoe club in their search for a new home.”

For details about the club visit kingfishercanoeclub.co.uk/