Deprived of our five-a-side pitch

PUBLISHED: 07:05 23 May 2014

Copy of a letter sent to Exmouth Leisure Centre and East Devon District Council.

Regarding the proposed change of use of the sports hall at Exmouth Leisure Centre.

I am writing to you on behalf of my fellow Exmouth five-a-side footballers to express our shock and anger at the news that the current owners of the town’s sports centre have decided to divide the marked interior of the hall itself into a number of smaller spaces.

As we have read in the local press, this has been done in order to ‘increase capacity’, thereby ‘extending’ the ‘customer base’.

LED Leisure has stated in the Exmouth 
Journal that ‘five-a-side football will have to look elsewhere’ in order to continue.

We have looked ‘elsewhere’, only to find the Community College sports hall fully booked and the tennis centre totally unsuitable. So after 17 years of playing football with our friends on each and every Tuesday evening of the year, we have to say that we, as a group, are facing the end of an era.

Most of us played football for local clubs in our youth, but with some of us now in our 50s and 60s, these Tuesday nights have been a brilliant way of staying fit and keeping in touch with old friends.

What are we to do now we have been told that we have to go?

The trouble with the council selling Exmouth’s facility to a private company is that profitability is ultimately bound to hold sway over what the actual community wants and needs.

Isn’t the whole point of a sports centre to be exactly that – a centre where the community, young and old, can come together to meet, play and keep fit?

Why was the invitation to a consultation meeting sent out after the decision had been taken?

All we can do is urge LED Leisure and EDDC to consider the repercussions of their decision regarding the Exmouth facility and the thinking that went towards it.

Surely it flies in the face of the current post-Olympic policy of sport for all that our Government wants local authorities to put into action?

We have been abandoned by our authority. We are left with nothing.

As our group prepares to disband, we would be very grateful if you could clear a few things up for us.

Firstly, we would like to know if there was any consultation between the management and the users of the sports centre prior to any decision being made.

Furthermore, we wondered if there are any minutes available to the public regarding meetings that may have taken place between LED Leisure Management Ltd and Exmouth Town Council and/or East Devon District Council regarding the change of use of the hall?

We would like to know if there is a copy of the lease to the management company available to the public.

Finally, we wondered if there has ever been any provision in place for long-term users of the site to find alternative accommodation, should they be displaced?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Gooding

Salisbury Road

Exmouth

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