Portsmouth athletics club ‘in disarray’ amid safety fears at Mountbatten Centre

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HUNDREDS of athletes have been forced to ‘live a nomadic existence’ after their HQ at the Mountbatten Centre was shut amid safety fears.

Members of City of Portsmouth Athletics Club have been forced to train at schools and parks across the city after leisure centre operators condemned the throwing cage, branding it unsafe, and shut down the track’s floodlights.

Gary Sparke, coach at City of Portsmouth Athletic Club

The fact is Parkwood has not maintained the athletics equipment including the floodlights for a very long time

The move comes after the death of Albert Xhediku, 34, who was electrocuted while on the site’s artificial football pitch earlier this month.

Now, the head of City of Portsmouth has called for an urgent investment in athletic facilities within the city. Phil Budd, chairman of the club, said: ‘Now is an ideal time for investment – it’s needed. We never realised how difficult it is to find sporting facilities in Portsmouth – it’s a nightmare.

‘We’re going to schools offering tennis courts that are floodlit and we’re having to use them. But there’s nowhere else that caters for specialist athletics.’

The sports ground is run by Parkwood Leisure, on behalf of Portsmouth City Council.

Gary Sparke, the coach of the athletics club, has criticised Parkwood saying it had left the club in ‘disarray’.

‘The fact is Parkwood has not maintained the athletics equipment including the floodlights for a very long time,’ he said,

A spokesman for Parkwood Leisure confirmed the floodlights were out of action, pending an investigation.

He added: ‘High winds have caused a temporary delay but we will be completing all work and fully opening the athletics area as soon as possible.

‘Replacement sections for the hammer cage will also be installed following recent damage by the wind.’

Councillor Linda Symes, the city council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said sporting provision in Portsmouth was ‘generally good’ and the authority had invested lots of money into ensuring this.

However, she added: ‘We don’t have the money to build extra facilities just in case something is temporarily unavailable.’