Gazette letters: Sotheby Mews Day Centre, Sobell Centre, school budgets and GLL support


- Credit: Archant

I want to congratulate the Gazette for its great coverage of the fight by the users of the Sotheby Mews Day Centre against its closure by the council, writes Terry Stacy, Islington Liberal Democrats.

Sadly history seems to be is repeating itself: only two years ago the centre faced the same threat from the council, the difference being it was months away from local elections and the Labour lead member for adult social care Janet Burgess said at the time that there were “no plans at all to close the Sotheby Mews Day Centre”. Interesting it has not been her fronting up this terrible news but her colleague Cllr Diarmaid Ward.

Labour is now backtracking on this commitment, its promises proving worthless. It is also extremely dishonest to link it to the rebuilding of the Highbury Roundhouse Community Centre, turning one community against another. Both centres provide much needed and respected local services to the community. The council’s actions are divisive.

At a recent meeting at the day centre, users made clear their opposition to the plans. These pleas seem to have fallen on death ears.

Only a couple of years after they took over the running of the Sobell Centre, and after they have already closed one of the two five-a-side football courts there, writes David Kitson, Walsingham Road, Clapton,

Better have now decided to close half the floor space in the sports hall at the Sobell to open a “trampoline park”, a proposal one might think would be better suited coming from a commercial provider than a charitable social enterprise with a mission to provide sports facilities to the community.

As a result, footballers who have been users of the centre for up to 40 years (30 years in my case) are being “displaced” (in Better’s words) with little notice and no consultation. In fact, an email sent by Better to a mere four of the 20 to 30 groups who play regular football at the Sobell had to be hastily withdrawn after it mistakenly promised a consultation that was not actually on offer.

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To say this is a disgraceful attitude to take towards long-term customers is an understatement. Rather than allowing five-a-side football to remain at the Sobell alongside facilities for badminton, basketball, volleyball and netball, Better have decided to do away with football at the centre all together. To all of us who have kept five-a-side football teams together for decades, enjoying the sport and the companionship, Better are saying: “You have had your time”.

Islington Council, in approving plans for the trampoline park, stated that “the current provision and activity at the Sobell Centre will need to be reviewed to see if any particular groups are impacted and whether the impact can be mitigated”.

We have seen no such review (indeed, there has not been time for one to have been carried out properly) and I would ask local councillors to urgently request sight of such a review and demand that these ill thought-out proposals be reconsidered so that football can remain alongside other sports at Islington’s only major sports centre.

Why is it that when cuts to school budgets are discussed cutting support staff is mentioned first? writes R Smith, Finsbury Park, full address supplied.

What about cutting the size of leadership teams in some schools? Heads, deputy heads, assistant heads, executive heads and business managers – are they ALL really necessary?

Plus the wage difference is quite huge in some cases.

I have seen primary schools running quite sufficiently with just a head and deputy head.

Your story (‘Sobell Leisure Centre gives five-a-side football league the boot to make way for trampoline park’) missed out the efforts taken to support those affected by the forthcoming changes at Sobell Leisure Centre, writes James McNulty, Islington partnership manager, GLL.So far, over 20 people have attended our drop-in information events, which have been largely favourably received by parents and users. While 13 non-league soccer teams will have their bookings relocated to purpose-built indoor football courts at The Bridge School, Holloway, the vast majority of bookings [for other sports] will be kept under the Sobell roof.We are offering a 50 per cent discount to existing Sobell players who will in future use alternative facilities so they can still play the sport they love and also cover their group travel to the new local Islington venue – which, if they choose to walk, is 15 minutes away.Sobell remains open to the groups to meet, get changed and use the facilities – including our extended café. We are happy to put the record straight so Gazette readers are not left in any doubt as to our continued commitment to extending opportunities for sporting participation in Islington.

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