Welwyn Hatfield MP: Gosling bosses to look into saving sports hall

PUBLISHED: 15:43 14 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:35 14 January 2019

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps tweeted a video in which he issued an ultimatum to GLL bosses. Picture: office of Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps tweeted a video in which he issued an ultimatum to GLL bosses. Picture: office of Grant Shapps

office of Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP has made an ultimatum and says that GLL bosses have agreed to look into the possibility of saving Gosling sports hall.

A large crowd turned out to talk to GLL managers at a public meeting at Gosling Sports Park. Picture: Melissa DaveyA large crowd turned out to talk to GLL managers at a public meeting at Gosling Sports Park. Picture: Melissa Davey

Grant Shapps MP has told chiefs at Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) that they have until Monday to come up with options to keep the Welwyn Garden City sports hall open.

Having previously met with partnership manager Craig Woodward on Friday, January 11, he tweeted an ultimatum to GLL, saying he wanted to meet a decision maker or he would “embarrass” GLL on the floor of Parliament.

Mr Shapp’s intervention comes after a 4,400-signature petition and campaigning by the group Save Gosling, a letter from council leader Cllr Tony Kingsbury, as well as the Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats who have taken up the cause.

Last week, after a packed public meeting where around 200 people showed up to raise their concerns, GLL had reiterated that it had “no plans” to change its mind.

READ MORE: Gosling campaigners quiz GLL managers at public meeting

However, the social enterprise appears to have changed its mind after the meeting with the MP and GLL regional director Joseph Rham and head of services Matt Perren.

According to Mr Shapps, the two executives apologised for not fully engaging with the community and its elected representative before announcing the closure.

Mr Shapps said that they have agreed that they would review the comments from last week’s three public meetings and will prepare a number of viable options with a view to seeing if the sports hall could continue to serve the community.

Welwyn Hatfield's MP Grant Shapps has called for a moratorium on the closure of Gosling sports hall. Picture: Danny Loo/Grant ShappsWelwyn Hatfield's MP Grant Shapps has called for a moratorium on the closure of Gosling sports hall. Picture: Danny Loo/Grant Shapps

He also asked that GLL disclose confidential financial information on Privy Counsellor terms.

GLL has so far refused to answer financial questions in any detail.

Under Privy Council terms Mr Shapps will not be able to reveal GLL’s replies to the general public.

Mr Shapps said: “The community have been very clear – the closure of Gosling Sports Hall would be a disaster not only for local groups, but for national sport as well.

“I am furious that Greenwich Leisure bosses didn’t see fit to inform me as the local MP about their closure plans.

“And I simply do not believe there isn’t a workable solution to keeping some or all of these sports hall facilities open.

“It is essential that Greenwich Leisure share this information confidentially for an open and honest discussion to take place about the future of the sports hall and I welcome their pledge to do this and present other alternative plans at our meeting next Monday.”

Mr Shapps said that during the seven days before Monday’s meeting he will research GLL and its directors further.

“I will await what I hope is a more constructive approach from the Trust when we meet next week in parliament.

“Although I have to say that currently I just don’t believe GLL is acting in the best interest of my local area or the country.

“The supposed public consultation presented a ‘fait accompli’ decision that couldn’t address the concerns of sports hall users, they don’t appear to have asked any of the users whether they would be prepared to pay more, they often don’t collect fees and they leave the place run down and unstaffed all too often.

“They didn’t even send someone with the appropriate authority to seriously discuss their closure plans.

“However, today we had a very robust discussion, and next week I hope to discuss tangible solutions from GLL decision-makers on how to save Gosling sports hall.

The MP concluded the meeting by reaffirming his pledge to work with GLL and the community to keep facilities open if at all possible.

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