Hatfield leisure centre closes over Easter and Royal Wedding bank holidays

THRIFTY council bosses have been blasted for closing a leisure centre over two of the busiest public holidays of the year.

At a time when the nation enjoys an extra few days away from work and school, Birchwood Sports and Leisure Centre in Longmead, Hatfield, will be closed from tomorrow, Good Friday, and reopen on Tuesday, April 26.

It means all of the centre’s facilities – including children’s softplay area Fun Zone, three football pitches, sports hall and fitness suite – will all be unavailable during that time.

It will close again on April 29, the day of the Royal Wedding, and stay closed until Tuesday May 3.

But officers have defended their decision to shut the facility over both four-day weekends, claiming it’s commercially unviable to stay open.

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Hatfield Town Council is refusing to pay staff bank holiday rates, opting instead to shut the facility to save cash – just as it did over last year’s Easter break.

A spokeswoman for Hatfield Town Council said: “We closed over Easter last year as well.

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“We just weren’t getting the numbers. Nobody’s going to want to take their kids to the Fun Zone at this time of year – everyone wants to be outside.

“Commercially it doesn’t make sense [to stay open]. Staff costs are too high.”

But the move has been criticised by customers who have been forced to go elsewhere.

Hatfield Town Football Club’s reserve team, who play their home games at Birchwood, have been forced to move a home fixture over the Royal wedding weekend 18 miles away in South Oxhey.

Alan Upson, who puts the nets up and acts as linesman for the team, said: “They might as well shut it [Birchwood] down – you’ll save even more money. I just don’t understand it.

“The local politicians have been handing out leaflets ahead of the elections, saying Birchwood is a “popular and profitable” centre. It’s not going to be popular of profitable for much longer if they close it down over the next two weekends.”

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