6 August 2017
This a guest post by Green campaigner Andrew Myer
Once again Islington council is acting like a one-party Labour state, unwilling or unable to consult, listen or explain. The Sobell Centre is a tremendous local facility and the magnificent sports hall at its heart, with its Olympic legacy sprung floor, is the envy of surrounding boroughs. A few years ago the community successfully stopped the then council from demolishing the building, to replace it with a smaller centre, but now, in a secretive decision, behind closed doors, the current council is cutting the hall in half, at a stroke.
Green campaigners with Save Sobell and Save Barnard Park campaigners
Of course it is important to encourage more people to be more active but drawing people in from all over north London to jump on the council’s proposed new trampoline centre should not be at the expense of local football/basketball/netball/volleyball teams, badminton players, climbers, etc. As yet the council has not provided any evidence of supposed long-term health benefits for what is effectively a giant bouncy castle, compared with the known value to hundreds of existing users participating in sport at the Sobell. In the lack of a clearly argued case it is hard not to see the proposal as more about generating income for Greenwich Leisure (who manage the centre for the council).
It’s great to see that Sobell users are considering a judicial review, to force Greenwich Leisure and the Council to consult properly, but this shouldn’t be necessary. The Council should do the decent thing, stop the work immediately, and put a proper consultation process in place as soon as people are back from their holidays. It isn’t enough to tell Islington what we’re getting. They should ask us if it’s what we want.
You can sign the community petition here - https://www.change.org/p/petition-to-save-the-sobell-centre-sports-hall