Hundreds protest plans to close Welwyn Garden City ski slope
PUBLISHED: 17:21 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:41 30 April 2019
More than 400 people gathered on Welwyn Garden City's dry ski slope yesterday to protest plans to replace the facility with housing.
The 'Fill the Hill' protest was held at Gosling Sports Park during the first race competition of the summer season.
The group gathered onto the slope at midday holding banners and placards, shouting: “Save our slope!”
Organiser Simon Godley said: “By our actions, we are demonstrating to the current Conservative-run council that this dry slope is a highly valued sporting facility, regularly used by children, schools, community groups, disability groups and an OAP group.
“We understand the need for more housing, but not on this site and not at the expense of losing one of our key sporting facilities.
“This is a sports facility that other borough councils around the country would love to have in their area, while our council is happy to see it disappear.”
Also in attendance was Liberal Democrat county councillor Nigel Quinton, who said: “I wish the borough council was here to see so many skiers, parents and supporters – they might regret their report which claimed the ski slope was under used!
“The Lib Dem group is committed to saving this facility and condemn the Conservatives who run the council, who not only have failed to listen (again) to what local people are telling them, but actually voted as a group against the petition presented to the council by your wonderful campaigners last month.”
Labour parliamentary candidate Rosie Newbigging was “honoured to be invited to speak about the importance of the slopes for the well-being of the community.
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“I paid tribute to the brilliant campaign and the hundreds of people who joined the event, particularly the many children and young people.
“I also referred to the unanimous support of the council Labour group for the campaign petition at the March borough council meeting.”
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps said: “Like many parents in our area, my children learnt to ski at Gosling and I've enjoyed the facility over the years too.
“In an era where everyone is encouraging youngsters, as well as the wider population to be more active, it would be a great shame to lose such a unique facility.
“But, more than that, I am becoming concerned that facilities that make our area feel like a unique place to live – like Panshanger airfield which Sport England said was significant and now the ski slope at Stanborough – are being sacrificed for the relentless drive of development.”
Conservative group leader Tony Kingsbury said: “I am aware the ski slope is important to some local residents as demonstrated at the recent council meeting.
“Getting the Local Plan agreed has, and continues to be, a difficult and lengthy task.
“As you may be aware we are under further pressure to find additional sites and space for several thousand more houses, this threatens even more green belt.
“As said at the meeting it is premature to exclude this site at the moment as we need to let the process of the Local Plan continue.
“However, the points made were very much heard and I'm sure will be in the minds of councillors making these decisions.”
To find out more information about the ski slope visit: better.org.uk/leisure-centre/welwyn/gosling-sports-park/ski-gosling-sports-park