A number of members of a Stevenage fitness club have criticised the decision to close the gym’s car park – which they say was being used by NHS staff and volunteers at Lister Hospital.

The collective of long–standing Active Fitness members, who do not wish to be named, have slammed senior figures at Stevenage Sports Club Ltd – who shut off their car park from the public last week.

An array of social media posts circulated online, with comments criticising the decision to close the car park.

In an email sent to the Comet, one member said: “While the majority of us were out clapping the NHS on Thursday night in appreciation and are supporting them in any manner possible, the rugby club barricaded the parking facility.

“It [the car park] was providing nurses and doctors with a free place to park very close to the hospital.

“As the gym has closed, it would not have been difficult to embrace a charitable stance and let them park temporarily to ease the burden when the car park has no use at all.”

The car park in question is owned by Stevenage Sports Club Limited, not Active Fitness, Lister Tennis Club or Stevenage RFC who all share the facilities.

Steve Mudd, one of the club’s directors and chair of Stevenage Town RFC, has defended SSC’s decision – arguing his main concern was to keep the site safe and secure while the gym remains empty during the national lockdown.

He says the club already provide secure parking for vetted and approved “essential” NHS staff, and says the club have been in contact with NHS Estates – who oversee the NHS’s property and facilities management – on the matter.

Steve said: “My main concerns are ensuring the site is safe and secure as are most businesses that lay empty during this crisis. We have already experienced suspicious unauthorised people on site, who had nothing to do with NHS staff.

“Quite apart from the difficulties of managing what was an open site during lockdown, there are obvious health and safety concerns as well as insurance matters to consider.

“This has become of great concern, to the point we’re not sure we can keep the secure parking available without specialist help and the possibility that our insurance may not cover this provision.”