A ‘CONSTRUCTIVE’ meeting has been held between representatives of Ryedale District Council and the Injured Jockey Fund regarding proposals for a multimillion pound rehabilitation centre in Malton.

The meeting was sought by council leader Keith Knaggs after it was revealed the charity was reconsidering pursuing an application due to planning issues surrounding its favoured site near Malton and Norton Rugby Club.

Malton had been earmarked for the IJF’s second rehabilitation centre in the UK, with Jack Berry MBE, vice-president of the charity, spearheading the campaign for a facility in the north of England.

About 12 sites have been looked at by the charity in Malton and Norton.

Coun Knaggs said this was an important project for Malton and Ryedale, given the long-standing importance of the racing industry.

“Last week, I had meetings with planning officers and with the agent acting for the IJF,” he said. “I’ve had a positive response from the chief executive of the fund, which is a substantial and very well-connected charity, but we’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out if they will take it forward.

“Interestingly, of all the jockeys who are registered as based in Yorkshire, a third are in the Malton area – far more than any other location. There are bound to be issues with particular sites, but if a medical and rehabilitation centre for the racing industry is not appropriate for Malton, what is?”

Development manager Richard Bannister, representing the IJF, said it had been a constructive meeting. “Any site is likely to be sensitive and it is our aim to seek to ensure whatever development we bring forward, if it is in Malton, is done sensitively,” he said.

John Fairley, from Norton's Highfield Stables, a trustee of the IJF, said a further meeting would be held next week involving trustees and the chairman of the IJF to decide the way forward.