Welwyn Garden City sports hall closure ‘out of the blue’

PUBLISHED: 15:24 24 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:52 02 January 2019

Gosling Sports Park. Picture: Danny Loo

Gosling Sports Park. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

The sports hall at Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City is set to close, it has been announced.

The news that the hall will close at the end of March has come as “a complete and utter surprise” to those who use it.

Explaining the decision, a spokesperson for GLL said: “It’s a difficult decision for us, but we are prioritising allocating resources into other facilities in the Sports Park which can better serve a wider range of people and are sustainable over time.

“We understand this will be a disappointment to some users.

“We want to support them, so in addition to providing plenty of notice of our intentions, we are holding customer meetings to communicate the changes and the arrangements for alternative local sports provision.”

Nigel Rive, who has been a member of Gosling Sports Park for about 35 years, described the closure as “out of the blue” and a “complete and utter surprise”.

Nigel runs Saturday Badders at the sports park and had already complained to the management about a lack of maintenance.

In October, he emailed the management to express his “dismay at how the original sports hall was not being maintained to a satisfactory standard”.

He wrote: “The main hall itself is not regularly kept clean and when attending we have had to clear some of the mess to make it fit for play.

“The gentleman’s changing room – the showers especially – require a make-over and the plumbing fixed.

“There are numerous other issues, but the main reason for me writing is to ask you why, on so many regular occasions, is there no one on reception?

“For weeks I have participated in ‘No Strings Badminton’ and I am unable to pay for the session fee along with everyone else attending.

“I also understand that Monday morning’s aerobics session is the same.

“This is now a regular occurrence and with both sessions normally consisting of over fifteen participants the Gosling is losing valuable income.

“If you allow this issue to continue you won’t have a business to run and could potentially result in closing the centre.”

A spokesperson for GLL told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “As we operate a cashless facility, customers no longer require a full-time receptionist and this releases staff to serve customers throughout the centre – including booked activities.

“Customer service and safety is of paramount importance so there is always someone in centre if help is needed and our duty manager’s number is prominently displayed.”

The sessions to discuss the closure of the sports hall will take place on January 7 at 6pm, January 9 at 1pm and January 10 at 11am.

Councillor Nigel Quinton got in touch with the Welwyn Hatfield Times after learning of the sports hall closure.

He said: “As Hertfordshire’s Year of Physical Activity draws to a close we learn that a sports hall that was only upgraded four years ago will be closed without any consultation whatsoever.

“The operators GLL are letting down our community dreadfully.

“Gosling is a much-loved facility that has served the people of Welwyn Garden City and more widely, for very many years.”

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