Squash players strike over Sobell Leisure Centre ‘racquet racket’

PUBLISHED: 15:58 20 July 2016 | UPDATED: 15:58 20 July 2016

Members of the Britannia Squash Club outside the the Sobell Leisure Centre. From left Richard Noble, Tim Denis, Tony Lewis, Carlos Lopez Barillas and Adam O'Brien. (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Members of the Britannia Squash Club outside the the Sobell Leisure Centre. From left Richard Noble, Tim Denis, Tony Lewis, Carlos Lopez Barillas and Adam O'Brien. (Picture: Polly Hancock)


Dozens of squash players went on strike for a month after frustrations with a leisure centre boiled over.

Members of the Sobell Squash Club downed their racquets over measures brought in at Sobell Leisure Centre by GLL, which runs the council-owned facility in Hornsey Road under the name Better.

At the end of May, timer-activated lights were brought in on courts to save energy. But regular players, who are now unable to warm up on empty courts, felt the move was a money-motivated ploy by Better and are angry they weren’t consulted.

It only added to their existing frustration over “racquets memberships”, which allow members to play for free once a day at Better centres across the UK – except the ones in Islington.

Carlos Lopez-Barillas plays in the league and is chairman of Hackney’s Britannia Squash Club, which also plays at the Sobell. He and Sobell Squash Club bosses met Better on June 30 to bring an end to the walkout.

He told the Gazette: “The strike was a way to communicate there were a lot of people unhappy with the measures, particularly because they were introduced without any consultation whatsoever.

“I don’t like that the racquet membership is not available in Islington.

“It is very clearly a measure putting profit above benefit to the residents – and that is what the facilities are there for, to serve the community.”

Matt Perren, partnership manager for GLL in Islington, said the timers were industry standard and worked well.

He added the small number of courts and players would not have supported the racquets membership when Better took over in 2014, when there was also a problem with people using the courts without paying. He also invited further “feedback”.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington News Stories

Yesterday, 09:00

Think you’re an expert on Islington’s boozers? Well, pub fanatic Johnny Homer knows more. He’s written a book about the history of our most interesting watering holes.

Fri, 18:54

An army of 51 headteachers from schools across Islington have slammed funding cuts to education on an afternoon in which families came in their droves to the borough’s parks for the nationwide ‘big assembly’.

Fri, 16:56

It was the most anticipated Caledonian Road shop opening in a generation.

Fri, 12:49

A London Metropolitan University student has been jailed for 15 years for planting a home-made bomb on a busy Tube train.

Fri, 07:48

A Catholic priest who repeatedly raped and assaulted boys is facing jail.

Fri, 07:00

Scars of the past have yet to heal for neighbours of a controversial former Holloway Road nightclub. After seeing off the People’s Club for good last year, they are now protesting after Islington Council received a new application for a lesbian social club in the same premises.

Thu, 16:10

The results are in after Islington Greens and Tufnell Park Parents unleashed “citizen science” to measure air pollution levels across the borough.

Thu, 15:58

The courtyard at Islington Police Station currently doubles as a showroom for stolen mopeds.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now