Crying foul over plan to close sports pavilions

SPORTS teams could be left out in the cold because of budget cuts by a council. News that five pavilions in Hitchin will be closed in April has been met with widespread anger. The facilities at Swinburne Rec, St John s Rec, Walsworth Common, Cadwell and R

SPORTS teams could be left out in the cold because of budget cuts by a council.

News that five pavilions in Hitchin will be closed in April has been met with widespread anger.

The facilities at Swinburne Rec, St John's Rec, Walsworth Common, Cadwell and Ransom's Rec were approved for closure by North Herts District Council to save an estimated £27,620 a year.

Since this decision, however, councillors and members of the community have hit back.


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They argue that Hitchin's pavilions are precious and are fighting to keep them.

If lost, sports teams will be left without toilet and changing facilities.

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The council says that poor condition, cost and regular vandalism are reasons for closure, but a plan is in place to reinstate the recreation grounds with new, improved facilities over the next five years.

In a statement, NHDC said: "This option will have a temporary adverse effect for the users but there will be long-term benefits."

It is the short-term period of disruption that opponents of the plan are concerned about.

Speaking at a meeting of the Hitchin Committee on Tuesday, with reference to Walsworth Common, Cllr Derek Sheard said: "We need to think about the interim.

"It's a facility that if it's not maintained becomes a downward spiral."

Councillors highlighted that a closure of facilities now would have an impact on the future of many clubs.

If sports teams suffer due to poor services at the recreation grounds, when the new facilities are built there may be a shortage of teams to actually use them.

Chris Parker from the Keep Hitchin Special group said: "This seems a pretty cheap snipe at the public, and groups such as football clubs, scouts and guides etc and those who rely on these, not only through the football season, but also during the summer when there are local festivities.

"I, along with football clubs, am absolutely appalled that five sports pavilions may be closed in Hitchin."

Cllr Sarah Wren said at the Hitchin committee meeting on Tuesday: "These pavilions are very well used in our area.

"We're supposed to be supporting leisure facilities and I'm very disturbed by them being shut."

Her views were supported by her fellow councillors at the meeting who voted to send the item back to the council to be reconsidered.

The Cabinet will meet to readdress the future of Hitchin's pavilions on March 28.

Meanwhile, a skate park has been given the go-ahead, to provide youngsters in Hitchin with some wheely good times.

Councillors approved plans to build a wheeled sports facility on Walsworth Common at a cost of £30,000.

The design of the skate park was devised with input from a local user-group.

The council hopes that the future of the skate park can be secured if young people get on board to take care of the facility.

Skaters will be ready to roll by the end of April, when the council plan to have completed building work.

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