During the preparation for the 2012 London Olympics, Horsham District hosted the Grenadian Athletics squad (including the gold medal winning athlete Kirani James) who made use of the excellent outdoor and indoor athletics facilities at Broadbridge Heath.
Many will remember seeing photos in the local press of the athletes with smiling HDC members and senior officers. Recently there were more photos of the smiling council hierarchy making a presentation to Commonwealth Bronze medallist Jade Lally (who trains at the facilities at BBHLC) after her much deserved success in the Discus event at the Glasgow games.
I expect that when the World Championships in Athletics are held in London in 2017 and should Horsham District be asked to offer our indoor/outdoor athletics training facilities to visiting athletes we will welcome them, and members of the council and officials will doubtless leap at the chance of another photo opportunity.
How will they be able to smile at the cameras knowing that they will have placed a Sword of Damocles over the indoor training facilities, which they propose to expunge in the new development of the leisure site at Broadbridge Heath?
How will they face the many athletes who train week in, week out in the indoor facilities known as the Tube? These athletes will have to travel great distances to find any alternative places in which to develop their skills and techniques, particularly in bad weather (any time of year in our climate).
How will parents and the coaches (who incidentally freely donate their time and expertise) explain to the very many enthusiastic and talented youngsters in the Horsham Blue Star Harriers club that the council has dashed their dreams and sacrificed their training facilities on the altar of money-grabbing development?
There is so much that is to be welcomed in the latest proposals for the leisure centre, but HDC is in danger of ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ in pressing ahead without considering ways forward suggested by users and the local community.
One wonders if they would act in the same way if they did not own and hope to develop the site in the future for retail or housing? We read in WSCT last week that usage of the Tube has increased dramatically so, if the outdoor track is to remain in situ for the time being, why not retain the Tube until a final decision is made over whether the track should stay or move?
Cox Green, Rudgwick
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