Editor’s comment: Don’t all these voices count for anything?

Some of the five-a-side footballers who have been displaced from the Sobell leisure centre. Picture:

Some of the five-a-side footballers who have been displaced from the Sobell leisure centre. Picture: DIETER PERRY - Credit: Archant

I understand the argument that the council has no statutory duty to consult on the conversion of half the Sobell sports hall into a trampoline park.

I also understand the town hall’s position that the trampoline park will increase sports participation, particularly for demographic groups who are perhaps less able to access the centre at present.

What I don’t understand is how so much public pressure can have so little impact on the council’s decision-making. It may be legally within its rights, but shouldn’t the combined voices of the MP, two of its own councillors, hundreds of service users, trampolinists and even Michael Sobell’s granddaughter count for something? When should legality no longer be the council’s only concern?

There seems to be a misconception that the people opposing the trampoline park are arguing the toss: that they are challenging the council to justify a decision that has already been made. They are not. They are asking the council to change its mind and hold a consultation, even if there isn’t a legal need to do so. I would hope the council sometimes does things because they are right rather than because they are mandatory.

If the case for a trampoline park is so overwhelming, it should be a piece of cake to convince its critics by opening up more fully about the research that has been done on public health and trampolining, the project’s finances, and any independent advice that has been sought. In return, I suspect at least one of those hundreds of people might have a perspective GLL and the town hall haven’t considered.

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As someone with no strong interest in either football or trampolines, it isn’t for me to say if the plans make sense. But when so many people feel ignored, simply telling them everything is fine over and over doesn’t cut it.

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