Welwyn Hatfield’s MP and the company that runs the Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City, have confirmed that the Sports Hall will not now close on March 31st,as had been previously announced.
Following public outcry, Grant Shapps MP demanded action from the bosses of Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) during a crunch meeting held in his Westminster office.
Under the interim agreement, GLL has reversed its plans to “mothball” the Sports Hall, saying that the facility will now remain open to the public for limited hours over the next few months.
The Sports Hall will now continue in use through to at least July 1st 2019, allowing time for a longer term-plan to be formulated. Representatives from GLL have confirmed that they are in serious talks to extend the timeframe from a few months to several years.
Under the scheme, the Badminton hall will be open to the public during peak times – from 5pm onwards on weeknights, and until 5pm on weekends.
The detailed agreement was brokered after a series of meetings held between GLL, local community group the Gosling Sports and Social Enterprise (GSSE), and representatives of Mr Shapps.
Mr Shapps said:
“This is good news, though I’m treating it with cautious optimism. The Christmas eve shock announcement that our much-loved Sports Hall was going to close by the end of March took us all by surprise. I’m genuinely delighted to have been able to facilitate this three-month extension. But the real prize is completing negotiations to keep the Sports Hall open for several years ahead.
“Today’s announcement gives us breathing space to achieve this much wider agreement. I do still have some concerns about Squash provision under the proposed model, and this is one of the issues under ongoing discussion. Overall I am glad that GLL have agreed to keep the hall open during peak times for the community’s use. After a very bumpy start, I do want to thank GLL bosses for working with me and the community to get this far.
“I will continue to work with all the parties involved to try to ensure that Welwyn Hatfield’s sports and leisure provision is protected in years to come.”
Speaking of the agreement reached, Leader of the Conservative Group Cllr. Tony Kingsbury said:
“I’m pleased that I have been able to raise the concerns of residents with GLL. It’s great that our discussions with GLL and the GSSE group, along with Grant’s support, have helped to move things in a positive direction.
“In particular, the extension of the proposed closure date whilst further discussions take place is a big step forward.”
Notes to Editor:
To pass on views about the new usage model, you can get in touch with Grant Shapps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01707 262 632.