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Corbyn urges Sobell centre trampoline park rethink

Labour leader challenges Town Hall’s controversial decision to turf out hundreds of footballers from Holloway sports hall

04 August, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Jeremy Corbyn: ‘I’m not opposed to people using trampolines but I just think: Think about the good of having a good sports facility there’

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on Town Hall chiefs to “think again” before pressing ahead with a controversial trampoline park at Sobell Leisure Centre – days before campaigners said they had been “bullied” over a legal bid to halt the work.

The decision to bring trampolines to the Holloway sports hall was made by Islington Council in partnership with centre managers Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) without any consultation. The council believes it will generate revenue for the cash-strapped authority and double the number of users.

But more than 500 footballers who played at the centre were turfed out in June to make way for the trampoline park. Most are now playing at Holloway School.

The five-a-side footballers have launched a campaign against the plans, arguing that the council or GLL should have ­consulted because of the impact it would have on so many service users.

This week they were backed by football fan Mr Corbyn – the Sobell Centre is in his constituency. “I’ve met with users of the Sobell who are concerned about the loss of space to make way for the trampoline park,” he said. “I’ve written to the council setting out the views of the community and asked them to reflect on that, because I’m concerned about the loss of football spaces.”

Asked whether he believed the council should have consulted on the plans, the Labour leader added: “The argument for many years has been that their voices have not been sufficiently well heard in this matter.

“I’m not opposed to people using trampolines but I just think: Think about the good of having a good sports facility there.”

Sobell Leisure Centre

As work on the trampo­line park has already started, campaigners are now considering seeking an injunction to stop it being built. But this week they accused the Town Hall of “bullying” them after lawyers for the council warned that they would be personally liable for loss of council income should the injunction be granted at the High Court.

John Barber, whose five-a-side football team played at the centre for 40 years and who is spearheading the legal bid, said: “They’re going after us for their legal costs and costs for delay to works caused by the injunction.

“This is serious council bullying against a private individual and will be financially ruinous.”

Last month, the footballers sent a letter to the Town Hall explaining that they intend to seek a judicial review, alongside an injunction, arguing that the trampoline park decision was unlawful without a “proper, meaningful, public consultation”.

“A judicial review would take three or months,” Mr Barber said. “It’s pointless to just have a judicial review as works have already started.”

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Town Hall have stated: “The council has never been under any obligation to hold a public consultation on the principle of the trampoline park.”

The Tribune understands Finsbury Park ward councillors were not consulted on the details of the trampoline park plans either. A meeting between councillors and GLL to discuss parking issues is scheduled for next Wednesday.

Asked whether he thought the council should now halt the trampoline park work and carry out a proper consultation, Mr Corbyn said: “I’ve asked them to think again about the sharing out of space there and I’m waiting for a meeting with the council in answering this.”

Town Hall health and adult social care chief Councillor Janet Burgess said: “It is estimated twice as many people will use the space when the trampoline park is in place. At a time of huge government cuts to council budgets, income from the trampoline park will help the council to continue to deliver frontline services to residents.

“We are pleased to be able to offer the footballers an alternative venue nearby so they can play indoors or use Sobell’s outdoor pitches.”

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