LETTER: Athletes or lawnmowers at Broadbridge Heath?

Your letters
Your letters

In last week’s County Times councillor Jonathan Chowen tried to justify HDC’s bizarre plan to use 30 metres x 7 metres of prime indoor athletics space at Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre (BBHLC) as a store for ground maintenance equipment, claiming this has been achieved to meet the user group’s needs.

FAR FROM IT! So what are the facts?

In October 2015, faced with the council’s obdurate refusal to consider retaining the Tube (a 70 metre Indoor athletics facility adjacent to the outdoor track at BBHLC) by the simple expedient of not demolishing it, the BBHLC Joint User Group (BJUG) identified a fall-back position.

Knowing that HDC would have to provide some track-side facilities (toilets, storage etc.), we proposed that instead of constructing a new trackside building, the last 30 metres of the existing Tube (including its existing toilets and storage) could easily and economically be retained. This would have the added bonus of also saving part of the indoor athletics provision.

Although only 40 per cent of the Tube’s length would be retained, we pointed out to council officers that this would be extremely useful space (especially for the coaching of junior athletes) and, most importantly, mean that the main Sports Hall could be priority allocated to the Badminton and Basketball Clubs rather than the Athletics Club, on Monday and Wednesday evenings (peak time) throughout the year. We also talked to officers about this ‘Compact Tube’ potentially being an ideal safe venue to schedule indoor archery (problematic in a shared multi-purpose Sports Hall).

For over six months, we have been asking about the status of our fall-back proposal. Then, without any consultation, we were bluntly advised that yes, it is feasible to retain this ‘Compact Tube’, but that there was never any intention on HDC’s part to allow any indoor athletics to take place there. Even more strangely, BJUG were subsequently told in last week’s WSCT that this was what we had originally asked for!

It is beyond belief that the proposal we discussed at length with HDC officers did not incorporate the (truncated) athletics space still to be used for athletics, alongside the other retained spaces also keeping their existing usage i.e. toilets, and storage of equipment.

If you agree that our local athletes will have suffered enough loss and so deserve to at least utilise this (soon to be drastically reduced) facility, then please read more on our ‘Lobby your Councillor’ page at www.bbhleisurecentrejug.org.uk where your involvement may help us persuade HDC to see some sense.

P.S. BJUG do of course accept the necessity for proper ground maintenance equipment (and its storage), but please park it separately in a secure shed or lock-up, and not where it would finally eliminate the purpose-built indoor training facilities our athletes and their dedicated volunteer coaches have used so beneficially over many years.

Paul Kornycky

Chairman, BBHLC Joint User Group (BJUG), Cox Green, Rudgwick

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