Gosling sports hall talks head in ‘the right direction’

PUBLISHED: 15:35 22 January 2019

L-R: Mark Sesnan, GLL managing director; Joseph Rham, GLL regional director; Matt Perren, GLL head of services; MP Grant Shapps. Picture: office of Grant Shapps

L-R: Mark Sesnan, GLL managing director; Joseph Rham, GLL regional director; Matt Perren, GLL head of services; MP Grant Shapps. Picture: office of Grant Shapps

office of Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP Grant Shapps said that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the future of Gosling sports hall after meeting with GLL executives yesterday afternoon.

Mr Shapps met with managing director Mark Sesnan, regional director Joseph Rham, and head of services Matt Perren.

According to Mr Shapps, the leisure provider has agreed to work with the community to keep the facility open, potentially by involving user groups in “either a joint or self-managed arrangement”.

A spokesperson for GLL said: “We are running the Gosling sports hall at a significant loss.

“Having taken on board comments received at our public meetings and ideas presented to Grant Shapps we will now meet with the Save Gosling Sports Hall Group to discuss the figures in detail and examine what other options there may be going forward.

“We would be keen to support any possibility of keeping the sports hall open without making a loss.”

The promise of seeing detailed figures to back up GLL’s financial arguments has been one of the key sticking points in at the tumultuous public meetings held by GLL between January 7 and 10.

The MP said: “This is by no means business as usual for the Gosling sports hall because a solution will require considerable input from Gosling user groups.

“There is the potential for a unique collaboration between GLL and the users of this well-loved facility, but there is a lot of work to be done.

“I don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead, but I am cautiously optimistic [...].”

Melissa Davey, campaigner at Save Gosling and founder of The DKWay Badminton Academy, which uses the hall extensively, thanked Mr Shapps and said this was “the right direction”.

“But this is far from over,” she added. “There is a lot of hard work needed and quickly, and I look forward to receiving the relevant financial information from GLL by the end of the week.”

The meeting took place after the MP had tweeted a video threatening to “embarrass” GLL on the floor of Parliament.

A petition to save the sports hall has reached over 4,800 signatures and can be found at: www.change.org/p/petition-to-gll-management-and-welwyn-hatfield-borough-council-whbc

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