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Sobell Leisure Centre trampoline park finally set to open – while footballers score minor victory

PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:10 22 January 2018

The idea is to get more kids exercising. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

The idea is to get more kids exercising. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

2017 Steve Bainbridge

Inner London’s first trampoline park will finally open this weekend at the Sobell Leisure Centre.

The two-storey trampoline park is opening after a long delay. Picture: Steve BainbridgeThe two-storey trampoline park is opening after a long delay. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

The “extreme” bounce arena has caused controversy since it was announced in April as it is taking up half of the sports hall and covering an Olympic-funded sprung floor.

But Islington Council dug its heels in, insisting it will more than double the number of people attending the centre from 62,000 to 150,000, and get more kids exercising.

Islington is one of the poorest boroughs in the country and the cost for a go on the trampolines is not cheap. Better say prices will start “from as little as £7.95 per session”. At peak times anyone over 16 will have to pay £10.50.

Health campaigners have questioned whether hard-up families will be able to afford such costs, though the town hall has said prices will be heavily discounted for schools, youth clubs and sports groups.

Users get to grips with the trampoline park at the Sobell. Picture: Steve BainbridgeUsers get to grips with the trampoline park at the Sobell. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

The two-storey structure will launch with taster sessions for youngsters on Saturday. They will be able to experience the “battle beam”, a nine-metre slide, a “wipe-out system”, a foam pit and a dodgeball area, while there is also an under-fives section.

Local schoolchildren have already had a sneak peak this week, joined by Islington’s health chief Cllr Janet Burgess. Holly McLoughlin, five, of Hargrave Park School said: “My favourite is the giant trampolines because I jumped really high.”

Miraz Osi, eight, of Montem Primary School added, said: “The trampoline park’s really exciting. My favourite bit is dodgeball. It’s really fun.”

Better, run by “leisure social enterprise” GLL, runs five trampoline parks in the UK.

Cllr Burgess said: “These facilities promise to increase the fun and choice of exercise for everyone, which can only be good news as we all think about how to stay healthy this year.”

The main group to oppose the plans – aside from Jeremy Corbyn, a couple of Islington’s own councillors and Sir Michael Sobell’s granddaughter – was the 5-a-side footballers.

They were originally told to play outside or elsewhere, but have now been granted 15 hours a week at set times. Campaigner John Barber said some have had to pack it in, but the deal was “better than nothing”.

“The decision to commercialise this community sports hall, sanctioned by just a handful of executive councillors, has killed off some football groups who had been playing for decades,” he said.

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