Gosport air gun battles plan is shot down

Plans for airgun battles have been halted in Gosport
Plans for airgun battles have been halted in Gosport

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PLANS to run airgun games in the corridors of a former military hospital have been stopped in their tracks after outrage in the community.

Portsmouth-based firm UCAP Airsoft had planned to run the battles at Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport, advertising online that the games would be called ‘Virus – The Mutation’.

The games would see participants shoot plastic ball bearings at each other in the corridors of the hospital.

Eric Birbeck, chair of Haslar Heritage Group, said he had passed on people’s concerns when he received messages through the group’s website about the plans.

He said he was personally disturbed by the plans but the group had not asked the developers to stop them.

He added the majority of people had been concerned over the suitability of a firm of its type using the site.

‘People who had been members of the Royal Navy medical branch at Haslar had feelings about it,’ he said.

‘We made our concerns known to the owners. People did not agree with this type of company who have shooting and hunting as their main mode, taking place within a hospital where many people had died and been treated.’

UCAP had hoped to use the more recent 1984 Crosslink building, which housed operating theatres and patient support services.

Developers of the site, OurEnterprise, say they had not given the firm permission to use the hospital.

Matthew Bell is founder of Our Enterprise, the majority investor in the site. He said: ‘The company jumped the gun in promoting Haslar for this kind of activity before getting any form of authorisation from us. It’s a board decision – not just mine – but certainly my view was that it was totally inappropriate.’

Andy Stevens, owner of UCAP, said he wanted to use the building before it was demolished and that former veterans he had spoken to were supportive of the idea.

He said: ‘Nobody else seemed to mind but the people who used to work there.’