Petition to save squash courts at Fareham Leisure Centre rejected by council

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A POPULAR squash league is set to lose its courts after a council rejected its plea to stop them being converted into a soft play area.

Fareham Borough Council’s plans would see the courts become a soft play area, as part of an expansion of the centre costing the council £6.3m.

Members of the league, which started more than 15 years ago and involves more than 40 residents from across the area, attracted more than 160 signatures for its petition.

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It asked the council to reconsider the plans to ensure squash facilities remain at Fareham Leisure Centre.

Plans for the extension of the leisure centre, which include turning squash courts into a soft play area.Plans for the extension of the leisure centre, which include turning squash courts into a soft play area.
Plans for the extension of the leisure centre, which include turning squash courts into a soft play area. | Other 3rd Party

The petition was put before the executive member for leisure and community, Councillor Susan Bell, but was rejected due to the court’s declining usage and similar facilities available nearby.

Cllr Bell said: ‘We are aware we need to increase footfall, and unfortunately the squash courts are only used a very, very limited amount of time.

‘When the petition came in, we thought the best thing to do was for me to look over the information we had.’

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According to information provided by Everyone Active, who are contracted to run the leisure centre, squash court bookings have declined by 16 per cent since 2010 – with the space only used 55 per cent of the time when the centre is open.

League members had proposed the installation of a moveable wall, allowing both squash courts and a play area to occupy the space, but this would have a ‘detrimental impact on the revenue position’ of the plans, according to the council’s response to the petition.

Cllr Roger Price, who spoke in favour of the petition, said he was concerned that redevelopment was overly focused on money.

He said: ‘Its about money – it’s not about provision of services. It’s about the council not spending so much money, and the leisure centre operator making more profit.’

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The decision has left squash players feeling they have ‘exhausted all avenues’ to change the plans, according to league member Robert Brealey.

He said: ‘We have no choice in the matter by the sounds of things.

‘Despite putting in our letters of objection, it’s been made very by the council the decision has been made – it appears we have exhausted all avenues.’

The plans for the leisure centre are due to come before the council’s planning committee later in the year.

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